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How Texas defines "separate property"

When a divorce looms for a Houston-area couple, there is often a lot of apprehension regarding property division. Some spouses may assume all of their assets will be up for grabs or that items of great sentimental value may no longer be theirs. One of the keys to thwarting property division fears is understanding that there is often many items of property that will not be subject to division in a divorce.

Since many spouses' property division goals center on protecting assets, it's important for each spouse to define any separate non-marital property that should not be divided during the divorce. Unlike marital property, non-marital property is generally not divided when a couple parts ways. Thus, it is important to account for all separate property so that each spouse's property rights are protected.

There are several different types of separate property that may not be subject to division in a divorce. The first is property purchased or owned by a spouse prior to the marriage - for example, a car that one spouse bought on his or her own before the marriage. Another type of separate property is property obtained during the marriage by one spouse as a gift or inheritance. For instance, if one spouse's parent leaves him or her a rental property in his or her will, that property is separate if a divorce occurs. Yet another type of property considered separate is a settlement that one spouse receives from a personal injury lawsuit. Additional examples of separate property include gifts between spouses. For instance, if one spouse buys the other jewelry, that is usually considered separate, non-marital property, as well.

It's important to remember that these are just a few of the most common types of separate property. Moreover, some types of separate property, such as homes and cars, may bring up the issue of reimbursement if joint funds were used to pay for them during the marriage.

Source: TexasLawHelp.org, "Community property fact sheet," accessed Oct. 25, 2014

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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