What Is the Difference Between Marital Property & Separate Property?

What Is the Difference Between Marital Property & Separate Property?

Texas community property laws are the laws that dictate how property and debts are to be divided up when a couple goes through a divorce. These laws can often be confusing, but it’s important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who will advocate for you and help you get a fair share of your marriage’s assets. You may come across the terms “marital” or “community” property and “separate” property. Understanding what these terms mean is important to helping you end your marriage with a favorable outcome.

Community Property in Texas

Known as marital or community property, this refers to the property that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage, with some exceptions. Texas is considered a community property state, but that doesn’t mean that you can expect a perfectly even split of your assets. You can expect that the court will be more interested in providing an equitable and fair division.

One way that Texas courts determines the status of contested property is the “inception of title” rule, which relies on the property’s status at the time it was acquired. The state considers all property (with the below exceptions) gained by either spouse during the course of the marriage to be community property. It is on you or your spouse to otherwise prove that a piece of property is separate property.

Separate Property in Texas

According to Texas laws, separate property is any property owned or claimed before the marriage, and property acquired after the marriage by gift, devise, or descent. This means that there are some pieces of property that don’t fall under equitable distribution.

Separate property may include:

  • Birthday gifts
  • Family heirlooms
  • Property or assets purchased before the marriage
  • Inheritances
  • Personal injury awards (unless the recovery is for lost wages, medical bills, or other shared property)

Still Have Questions? Ask Our Katy Divorce Lawyers – (281) 764-6087

If you’re considering a divorce, you need an experienced legal team on your side. With more than 35 years of experience behind us, the Adams Law Firm is well-equipped to handle even the most complex divorce cases. Don’t wait to get the knowledgeable legal counsel and caring client service you deserve. Our Katy divorce attorneys are ready to address your concerns, answer your questions, and advocate for your best interests today.

Contact our team by calling (281) 391-9237.


Who Gets Fido? Pet Custody After a Divorce in Texas

Our pets are often beloved members of our family, but legally, our four-legged friends are considered property in the State of Texas. This can lead to some serious stress and conflict if you and your spouse end your marriage. Fortunately, many judges are pet owners themselves or understand the deep ties you may have with your pet, so they may be willing to consider your pet’s custody more carefully and rule in favor of the pet’s best interests. Here are some things you should know about pet custody during a Texas divorce.

Write Down Your Custodial Wishes for Your Pet

If you can’t stand the thought of your pet leaving your side, you may want to write down your wishes for their custody. This information can be included in a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement, or partition agreement. If you’ve already married, a postnuptial agreement can also help.

In child custody cases, the judge will always consider the best interests of the child over the parents’ desires. When it comes to pet custody, however, the law only allows for pets to be treated as property. The judge will need to first determine whether the pet is separate property, belonging to one spouse, or marital property, belonging to both spouses.

If the pet was purchased or adopted before the marriage, it is likely to be considered separate property, and custody will be awarded to the owning spouse. If the pet was gained during the course of the marriage, the pet will be considered community property, and the custody of the pet will need to be determined with the rest of the marriage’s assets and property. If this is the case, the judge is likely to evaluate the roles both spouses play in caring for the pet and obtaining the pet.

What Factors Will Judges Use to Decide Custody?

As with any complex property settlement case, the judge will need to determine the animal’s status as community or separate property before proceeding. If the pet is community property, the judge will delve deeper into the matter. Here are some things judges may consider to determine which spouse is better prepared to care for the pet:

  • Which spouse has been the primary caretaker?
  • Which spouse meets the daily needs of the pet?
  • Has either spouse neglected or abuse the pet in any way?
  • Which spouse has the more pet-friendly work and travel schedule?
  • What are the custody arrangements for any children, and are they close to the pet?

The judge will strive to place the pet in the best household, where its needs will be met properly. If the children of the divorcing couple share a bond with the pet, the judge is likely to place the pet with the spouse who has primary custody of the children.

If there is more than one pet in a divorce, there is a good chance that the judge will split up the pets and award each pet to the spouse who is better equipped to prepare for that pet. Dogs may be awarded to the spouse who will be home more often, while a cat may be given to the spouse who works more or travels more.

Pet Visitation

The judge will not award a visitation schedule for your pet. Unlike your human children, your fur-children cannot legally have a binding visitation agreement determined by a judge. What a judge can do, however, is enforce any arrangements that the spouses can agree upon. Explicit terms spelled out in an agreement, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, can help simplify these issues.

How You Can Protect Your Custody

It can be stressful if you are unsure of your pet’s fate. Laying out your wishes in another agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement, can help simplify these matters. If you don’t have such agreements in place, you’ll need to take steps to prove you are the spouse who should have continued custody of the animal.

You will need to provide evidence that demonstrates your commitment to the animal or animals in your household. This evidence can include:

  • A pet license or adoption application with your signature
  • An affidavit from your veterinarian that states you are the person who tends to the pet’s medical needs
  • Receipts from pet supply stores, grooming, and other pet services with your payment information.
  • Witness statements from neighbors, other dog-park visitors, or friends who can speak to your dedication to your pet’s care and wellbeing.

Contact Our Katy Divorce Attorney – (281) 764-6087

If you’re facing a divorce, you shouldn’t face it alone. At the Adams Law Firm, we’re committed to supporting our clients in every way possible through the divorce process. Our Katy divorce attorneys have more than 35 years of experience under our belts, so you can trust that we’re ready to assist you with your divorce case—no matter how complex.

Begin your case with a consultation. Contact us at (281) 391-9237 today.

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