Apart from matters involving children, property distribution is typically the most contentious issue in a divorce. The law requires the division to be fair. However, deciding what is fair under the circumstances, especially if the couple has minor children, can be a process that is fraught with emotion.

A Wells Branch property division lawyer at Angela Faye Brown & Associates could defend your rights in a divorce and ensure that you walk away with a fair share. If you will be providing a home for your children, an experienced family attorney could protect the standard of living your children enjoyed before the split.

Personal Property Is Not Subject to Division in a Divorce

In general, the law treats all property the couple possesses when they dissolve their marriage as marital property subject to equitable distribution. However, the law recognizes that a spouse might have owned property before marriage, and they should retain sole rights to that property.

The law will treat anything a spouse possessed before entering marriage as their personal property, not subject to equitable distribution. This includes:

  • Real estate
  • Brokerage and retirement accounts
  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Inheritances
  • Personal debt

However, if a spouse treated their personal property like marital property, the other spouse could claim a portion of it. For example, if one partner used an inheritance to fund improvements on the family home, the increased value of the home is a joint asset, not a personal asset. A Wells Branch property division attorney could advise whether a specific asset is joint or personal property under the law.

The Meaning of Equitable Distribution

Texas Family Code §7.001 requires a judge to split marital property in a manner that is just, considering all the circumstances. Although this process is called “equitable distribution,” it does not mean that each party leaves with an equal share of the assets.

A judge must consider multiple factors when determining how to divide marital property. The relevant factors include the:

  • Ages and health status of each spouse
  • Spouses’ relative earning power
  • Value of each spouse’s personal property
  • Childcare and other commitments
  • Behavior of each spouse during the marriage
  • Ability to maintain any children’s accustomed lifestyle
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including domestic duties and childcare

In most divorces, a judge does not make property division decisions. Typically, the parties decide these matters in negotiations between themselves or through mediation or arbitration. However, a judge must approve any agreement the parties reach and will consider the above factors when reviewing an asset division settlement.

Hiding Assets in a Divorce

Divorces can be bitter, and people sometimes try to hide assets from their spouse to avoid sharing them in a property distribution agreement. Sometimes a spouse tries to keep certain assets like bank accounts or brokerage accounts secret. If they own a business, they could take assets out of the business to diminish its value as community property. Executives could have their company pay them in stock or bonuses payable at a future date rather than allow their spouse to claim part of it. Attempting to hide assets in a divorce is always ill-advised because a person who does is subject to significant penalties if the judge learns of it before the divorce is final. If a former spouse learns that their partner failed to disclose assets, they could even reopen the property distribution settlement case.

A savvy property division lawyer who represents divorcing spouses in Wells Branch understands the many methods a spouse might use to hide their assets. With the help of a team of accountants, business valuation experts, and others, they could expose these attempts and protect the other spouse’s right to a fair share.

Work With a Wells Branch Property Division Attorney to Achieve a Fair Settlement

Divorces can cause good people to behave badly. A person might try to punish a spouse by denying them a fair share of the marital property.

A Wells Branch property division lawyer understands the emotional significance of splitting up marital property and is prepared to assist in a way that protects each spouse’s right to a fair distribution. Call today to arrange an appointment with a skilled attorney at Angela Faye Brown & Associates.