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What if my spouse and I can’t agree on how to divide our assets?

It is incredibly common for couples going through a divorce to disagree on key points. Child custody arrangements and financial support are often hotly contested issues. It is also very common for couples to disagree about how assets from the marriage should get split up between the spouses. The more assets you have, the easier it is for a disagreement to occur.

Disagreements can quickly become emotional, with both of you feeling a desire to “win” this final battle. If you can’t come to terms about how to divide your assets and you don’t have a prenuptial agreement on record, the courts will step in and handle the asset division process for you.

The courts can make the decision for you

If you don’t agree to terms when you file for the divorce, you and your spouse can ask the courts to review your case and decide how to divide the assets. This generally means that a judge will have the final say in who gets what and how assets, like the family home, get handled.

A judge will review an inventory of your assets and debts and determine, based on law and the specifics of your marriage and individual situations, how to fairly distribute the assets from the marriage. In general, it doesn’t matter who made more money or if one spouse stayed home to care for children or the home. Both spouses should receive a fair portion of the property upon dissolution of the marriage.

Texas is a community property state

Every state has its own rules and laws in place about marriage and divorce. Texas laws make it a community property state, where most assets and debts obtained during the marriage are jointly owned by both spouses. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the retirement account or the registration for your boat. If you acquired it during the marriage, it belongs to both of you.

Notable exceptions to this rule include gifts, both from your spouse or an outside party, as well as an inheritance left to only one spouse. Typically, assets owned separately before marriage remain the separate property of that spouse in divorce, unless assets were commingled during the marriage.

Otherwise, all your debts and assets are subject to division by the courts. The judge will consider a number of factors when determining how to split your assets, including the length of your marriage, the reason for divorce, the earning ability of both spouses, the child custody arrangements and the health of both spouses, among others.

Because there are so many unique factors to every marriage and divorce, every asset division decree is inherently unique. Understanding the factors that influence the outcome may help you prepare for the outcome, but it is nearly impossible to accurately predict the exact outcome of the process ahead of time.