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Can Fault Grounds Impact Marital Property Division?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2023 | Family Law

Divorce involves a lengthy list of things to consider, one of which is how the court divides marital properties. Division of property is not as easy as counting 1,2,3. A lot of things come into play including each spouse’s earning capacity, who holds custody of the children and existing debts. Understanding the basics of the property division process would help alleviate the stress from the entire divorce proceeding.

Equity Is Key

Following the community property model for divorce property division, Texas considers all marital assets acquired during the marriage as equally owned by the spouses. Therefore, the court must divide these properties between the two parties in a “just and right” manner. However, a fair division does not always mean equal division.

What if the property is only under one spouse’s name? It does not matter. If the spouses acquired the property during the marriage, the law presumes it to be part of the community property and subject to division.

It Is Not “Just And Right” If There Is Fault Or Fraud

There is an exception to the “just and right” division and that is when either fault grounds or fraud exist. In this case, the court might award a disproportionate share of the community estate to the wronged spouse. Fault grounds include the following:

  • Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Conviction with imprisonment for at least one year
  • Abandonment with intent for at least a year
  • Living separately for at least three years
  • Confinement in a mental facility

Once the judge determines the division, they will release a final decree detailing when and how the spouses would receive the property. If the parties do not agree with the initial outline, they may request the judge to provide a more detailed manner of completion of the division of community property.

In a divorce, each party wants to make sure that they get their fair share of the property division. Understanding basic information on property division in divorce would help the spouses know where they stand.