Fair but Not Necessarily Equal Asset Division in Divorce

Conference Meeting

One of the main concerns with divorcing spouses is how to divide the assets they have worked together to attain. Property that was once considered joint now needs to be separated, but not every asset can easily be split. Also, Texas is a community property state, which means that community property, such as money or your home, is considered marital property.

Dividing a home, retirement benefits, and vehicles can halt the proceedings as couples struggle to decideĀ how to divide the joint assets. Also, couples may start the division process amicably, but tempers can flare when one feels they are getting the short end of the deal. If spouses cannot agree a third party may be needed to help.

Splitting the house: Determining who will get the house can be a major hurdle. It is one of the higher value assets, assuming your mortgage is not upside-down, and that can make it difficult to decide who will own it after the divorce.

Couples can choose to sell the home, and split the profits, one of the more straightforward routes. If one party wants to keep the home and the other is willing to leave, they may be responsible for paying the other party an equalization payment relational to the value of the home. If both parties want to stay the judicial system may need to intervene. If the couple has children, judges will often, but not always, grant the home to that parent.

A car title is not a guarantee: Divvying up vehicles is another problem area; people mistakenly assume that the name on the vehicle title indicates who will get the car. Vehicles are typically considered marital property and a judge may grant a vehicle to a spouse even if their name is not currently on the title.

Retirement benefits are not yours alone: While you may have put in years of time at the office, retirement benefits may be considered marital property. Your spouse may be entitled to some portion of their value or an equalization payment. An attorney can draft a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is a document outlining who will receive what from the retirement plan.

Agreements over property division can expedite the divorce proceedings. If couples can amicably decide on fair division and avoid the delayed, and often costly, the expense of outside intervention, the divorce will be much simpler. Remember, fair but not necessarily equal division is the goal.

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