Friday, May 1, 2015

It's Not a 50-50 World!

While many people expect property and debts to be divided 50-50 on divorce, that rarely happens.  There are several reasons for that.

First, Texas law does not mandate, or even suggest, an equal division.  Texas law requires that property division be "just and right".  That leaves a lot of wiggle room.

Sometimes, there are great disparities of income between the parties.  In many cases, one party has been out of the workforce, taking care of the home, while the other spouse made a good living.  When a person rejoins the work force later in life, it can be tough to get a job at all, much less a good-paying one.  Even when both parties have been working during the marriage, disparities in income are still common.

There can also be health differences which affect both income and expenses.  If a party can't work or can do certain things, obviously their income will suffer.  In addition, one party may have chronic health issues that lead to much higher expenditures. Either way, it makes sense to help out the party with a greater need.

In some cases, one party may have significant separate property income or just plenty of separate property assets while the other party has little or none.  The party with more separate assets often just doesn't need the community assets as much as the party without separate assets.

In each of those situations, it makes sense to provide a little more help to the disadvantaged party.  

Both parties need to adjust their expectations when dividing property and debts.  There are rarely equal divisions in divorces.  Instead, it makes sense to focus on actual needs and abilities of each party.

Before you get started on your divorce, it's a good idea to discuss approaches to property division with your lawyer.  Don't proceed based on your assumptions about the law.