Texas Divorce Asset Division: 'Just and Right' Explained

In Texas, the division of assets during divorce proceedings adheres to a distinctive legal doctrine. Unlike the equitable distribution model prevalent in many states, Texas law mandates a “just and right” division of marital assets. This article provides an in-depth exploration of how this principle is applied, particularly to assets acquired between the initiation and finalization of divorce proceedings.

The “Just and Right” Division Principle

The “just and right” division, as stipulated in Texas law, requires a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. This principle is rooted in the Texas Family Code, which directs courts to consider factors like the marriage’s duration, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the standard of living established during the marriage. This approach is not necessarily a 50/50 split but aims to achieve a division that is equitable and considers the circumstances of each spouse.

Post-Separation Asset Acquisition

Assets acquired after the filing for divorce but before the final decree are subject to particular scrutiny. These assets, while considered part of the marital estate, are evaluated based on the timing of their acquisition. The closer these assets are acquired to the finalization of the divorce, the more likely they are to be included in the division process. This can include a wide range of assets, from real estate to investments and even debt incurred during this period.

In “Murff v. Murff,” the court emphasized that the division must be equitable, not equal, and that each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances (Murff v. Murff, 615 S.W.2d 696 (Tex. 1981)). This case underscores the court’s discretion in determining what is “just and right” based on the unique aspects of each case.

Complexities in High-Asset Divorces

In high-asset divorce cases, complexities abound. These cases often involve intricate financial portfolios, including business interests, stock options, retirement plans, and real estate investments. Evaluating and dividing these assets requires not only a deep understanding of the law but also a keen insight into financial matters. The valuation of these assets, particularly those acquired or appreciating during the divorce process, becomes a critical aspect of the division.

Protecting Business Interests

For business owners, the division of assets can be particularly challenging. The business’s valuation, whether it is considered community property, and how it is divided can have significant implications. In some cases, one spouse may retain the business, compensating the other through other assets. Alternatively, the business may need to be sold or divided in some manner. The court’s decision will hinge on factors such as the business’s formation date, contributions by each spouse, and the business’s value increase during the marriage.

Custody Considerations and Asset Division

In cases involving children, custody arrangements can also influence asset division. The primary caregiver may be awarded the family home or a larger portion of assets to provide stability for the children. Texas courts consider the children’s best interests paramount in these decisions.

Conclusion

Divorce proceedings in Texas, particularly concerning asset division, require a nuanced understanding of the “just and right” principle. At The Blacknall Firm, we are committed to ensuring that our clients’ rights and interests are effectively represented.

To retain an experienced Texas divorce lawyer for your divorce or child custody case in DallasDentonCollin or Rockwall County, please schedule a consultation with us today.