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Marital property: What you should know

Dividing marital property in a divorce may be one of the most complicated matters to negotiate. It is normal to grow attached to belongings during the course of the marriage, and it is often emotional to part with those items.

Texas, along with several other states, divides marital assets according to the community property model. This means that the courts divide property, assets and debt accumulated throughout the marriage equally in half between spouses. It is helpful to know what constitutes marital property to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to in the final divorce settlement.

What is marital property?

Also referred to as community property, marital property involves physical property and intangible items as well, according to Texas state statutes. In addition to the family home and vehicle, marital property includes the following:

  • Intellectual property, including patents, copyrights and trademarks
  • Frequent flier miles and travel rewards points
  • Expensive collections, such as wine, coins, art, antiques and classic cars
  • Gifts exchanged between spouses during the marriage
  • Memberships to exclusive golf courses or country clubs
  • Tax returns or lottery winnings

Other assets involve 401k plans, stocks, money market accounts and term life insurance policies. Each party must disclose all marital property in their possession during the proceedings.

Is all property divisible?

Some property may stay with the original owner throughout the divorce. This is known as separate property, and it includes items that you owned prior to getting married. It also includes inheritance money, gifts given to you by a third party and personal injury compensation money you may have received.

It is important to keep your separate property in your own name and avoid combining it with marital property. For instance, if you deposit your inheritance money in a joint bank account with your spouse’s name, the money may become community property and lose its separate status.