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Does community property law mean a 50/50 split in a divorce?

One of the rules that set Texas’s family law procedures apart from other states is its community property statute. Couples dividing their property often rely on a judge to interpret state law and divide their belongings and debts.

The majority of states now use the equitable distribution standard. However, Texas is one of the few states that still has a community property rule that applies in litigated divorces. Unless you and your spouse arrive at your own settlement for property division purposes, a judge will treat all of your marital assets, debts and income as community property.

Some people oversimplify the concept of community property and will tell you that you can expect the courts to divide all of your assets in half. Is a 50/50 split the guaranteed outcome of property division proceedings in a Texas divorce?

No, a 50/50 split is not always the outcome

Despite what people claim, an even split of your assets is not the automatic result of community property laws. Instead, there is a presumption of an even distribution of your assets. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to divide every account but rather that you have to balance their value.

More importantly, however, is that the Texas community property statute gives the judge some degree of discretion. They learn about the family’s circumstances and decide based on the situation what they believe would be most appropriate and fair. They can deviate from a 50/50 split when there are unusual family situations, such as the dissipation of marital assets.

Litigated property division is an unpredictable process

No matter how well you build your case, there are never any guarantees about the outcome of a hearing in family court. You never know what a judge will determine after hearing the concerns of each spouse and reviewing the records from their marriage.

If protecting specific assets or retaining certain property is of the utmost importance to you in your divorce, then you may need to consider cooperating with your spouse through collaborative negotiations or mediation rather than relying on a judge to settle the division of your property. Learning more about Texas family law can help you understand what to expect in a complex Texas divorce.