the firm with a fresh perspective
The process of going through a divorce can be a painful one, regardless of circumstances. It’s also a time where a great deal of complex legal and financial details have to be worked through. Everything from property division to child custody to spousal maintenance is put on the negotiating table.
A good Round Rock divorce lawyer can’t make the personal pain go away, as much we might like to. But what Pennington Law PLLC can do is make sure our clients have peace of mind, knowing that a smart, tough, and up-to-date divorce attorney is on the job and fighting for their best interests.
From our Round Rock office, Pennington Law PLLC serves all of Williamson County and Travis County. We offer free consultations, payment plans and serve both English and Spanish-speaking clients. Call today at (512) 877-4384 or reach out here online.
Examples of Property Ownership Disputes
Every couple’s property portfolio will be different, but here are just a few examples of how the seemingly simple question of what property is separate and what is marital can become a source of dispute:
One spouse is still working at the same job they were at prior to the marriage. They’ve been building up a 401(k) account since starting work. Is the 401(k) separate or marital?
- The answer will likely be a little of both. What was put in during their time as a single person will revert entirely to them. Contributions made during the marriage can be shared by the spouse.
This example illustrates a key point that applies in other potential disputes–it does not matter if only one spouse’s name is on the account. The origin date of acquisition what matters.
One spouse owned their house prior to the marriage and that house became the marital home. Who does it belong to?
- This is another case where the answer will vary depending on circumstances. In principle, the house is the separate property of the spouse who owned it. But what if, after the marriage, the spouses did some home renovations or other improvements that enhanced the value of the property.
- Now, at least a portion of the home’s value is marital property and subject to community property distribution laws.
One spouse inherited money and put it into a joint savings account. Is it marital property or separate property?
- While an inheritance is, on its own, a piece of separate property, this example shows the money being commingled with marital assets. In cases like these, a Texas court will generally see the inheritance as having become marital property. The legal rationale is that the inheriting spouse, by putting the money into commonly-owned assets, essentially made a gift of their inheritance to the marriage.
There can be as many hypothetical examples as there are couples. Even once property is classified as marital or separate, the work of a Round Rock divorce lawyer is just starting. Assets that are jointly owned need to be negotiated over. Each spouse will want different things. An attorney that is always bringing a fresh eye to every case, can be in a good position to fight for their client’s best interests.
Our Texas Divorce Lawyers Can Help
Pennington Law PLLC takes pride in bringing that fresh perspective to each client who comes through our doors. We combine a studious approach to current case law with a good personal knowledge of how the family court judges in our area generally handle things and top that off with a fighting spirit that will vigorously advocate for our clients.
The state of Texas uses the principle of community property as the legal basis for dividing up property between spouses in a divorce. This means that a family law judge will, in a general sense, be looking to divide up the assets on a 50/50 basis.
But doing something “in a general sense” refers only to guiding principles. There are more than a few legal wrinkles that may need to be worked out along the way to a fair settlement. And perhaps none is more impactful than the distinction between marital property and separate property.
What Is Marital Property?
Marital property is that which is jointly owned by the couple. A common example might be a house that was purchased after the marriage. Tangible items like cars and furniture that the couple bought together can be marital property. Intangible property–like stock portfolios–might be marital property.
What Is Separate Property?
Separate property is that which each spouse owned individually and brought into the marriage. It can also apply to property that was inherited during the marriage. A piece of artwork that one spouse owned might be separate property. If a spouse is still driving the same car they were at the time of the marriage, the car is probably separate property.
The key distinction between marital property and separate property is the date it was acquired. Property owned prior to the wedding date is separate, that purchased after the wedding date is marital.
The concept looks simple enough on paper. In the real world though, a diligent Round Rock divorce attorney may face issues with considerable gray area in them.
To speak to one of our experienced Round Rock divorce lawyers, contact us online here or call today!
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