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Dividing Assets in a Divorce


As part of the divorce lawsuit, the property which the parties have accumulated during their marriage must be divided and allocated between them. Dividing assets in a divorce can be complicated as they must be divided into community and separate property. However, Houston, TX, divorce attorney Bruce C. Zivley can help you evaluate your assets and characterize, assign value, and divide everything properly. He helps clients through this process, taking every measure to make property division as efficient and fair as possible. 

Division of Property in Texas

Texas is a community property state. As such, our laws provide that we classify, or characterize, property into two categories: community property and separate property. There is a legal presumption that all property and liabilities accumulated during the course of the marriage are community property, subject to division upon divorce. Separate property is property or liabilities accumulated prior to the marriage, and property received by gift or inheritance before or during the marriage. While very rare, the recovery for personal injuries for pain and suffering sustained by a spouse during the marriage would be the separate property of that spouse, as contrasted with a recovery for lost wages or earnings, which would be community property.

Asset Characterization

The first step in dividing the property in a divorce is to characterize each asset or liability as belonging to either the community or separate estate of the parties. This initial step is vitally important because the court can only divide the parties' community estate. The separate property belonging to either party, notwithstanding how much or how little, cannot be divested or taken away from that party during a divorce. Therefore it is important to properly characterize property as either separate or community. The actual date of acquisition, except for gifts or inheritance, is the key component for making that proper characterization.

Asset Valuation

Once assets and liabilities have been properly characterized, the next step in property division is to determine the value of the individual assets and liabilities. Certain assets, and almost all liabilities, have an easily ascertained value. The debt owed to a particular creditor, or how many funds are in certain financial accounts on a given day, should be easy to determine. That value can be assigned to the particular asset or liability.

Mr. Zivley will dedicate his efforts to helping you not only ensure that assets are divided fairly, but that your separate property is protected. 

Other assets, such as real property and vehicles, have an inherent subjective element to determining their value, although there are routine methods for determining such. The fair market value is always considered by a home seller when they decide at what price to list the home for sale. Additionally, furniture and household effects are valued according to their present fair market value, rather than the actual cost or replacement cost for the item.

Once you have a value assigned for all of the significant assets and liabilities, you are able to add together and calculate the net total value of the community estate of the parties. 

How To Divide The Property

The final step to the division of property involves determining the percentage of the net total community estate each party is to receive. Some estates are divided equally, while in other cases, a disproportionate division of the property may be awarded to one party based upon certain factors which the court is empowered to consider in dividing the community estate.

If the percentages can be agreed to, then the property is allocated between the parties based on the assigned values of the assets and liabilities, in a manner designed to achieve the desired percentage split. In this instance, each party can have input into which items should be awarded to whom.

Exceptions that May Require Further Consideration

I have attempted to provide a simple explanation of how property is divided generally, and the applicable law thereto. There are obviously certain complicated assets where it is generally difficult to easily determine the value of the property interest, and those must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

division of property
An attorney can help distinguish marital property from non-marital property.

A Trustworthy Property Division Attorney

Schedule your consultation with Mr. Zivley today by contacting us online or by phone at (713) 600-5561. Mr. Zivley will dedicate his efforts to helping you not only ensure that assets are divided fairly, but that your separate property is protected. He also serves as a complex property division attorney in cases involving large estates.

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"Bruce handled my divorce. He was efficient and effective, always responsive and accessible. He provided great advice and kept the discussion fact-based and objective when I was occasionally tempted to focus on emotional aspects of the situation.*"

Holly B.

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