Trusted Family Law and Divorce Attorney Helping Clients Achieve Fair Property Divisions: Serving Frisco, Lewisville and all of Denton County, Texas
Valuation, division, and what is fair: In addition to resolving matters of financial support and child custody/ parenting, the division of property between parties must be resolved before the finalization of a divorce. Whether your divorce is highly complex or relatively straightforward, the assets and debts of you and your spouse must be divvied up in some form or fashion.
First Thing’s First: Identifying the Property To Be Divided
Before any issue of property division can be resolved, each piece of property must first be identified. Only when the assets and debts (i.e., the “plusses and minuses”) are laid out on the table can we get an accurate picture of what makes up the marital pot.
Both parties must disclose to each other each asset and debt they currently possess (and in some instances, what they may be entitled to in the future). This disclosure is signed under oath so as to prevent incomplete and/or fraudulent declaration of property (such as a knowing misrepresentation of value).
Property that may be subject to division includes:
- A homestead
- Other real property
- Recreational vehicles
- Retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, pensions, IRAs, etc.
- Investment accounts
- Businesses and business interests
- Debts (credit card debt, mortgage liability, etc.)
- And more
**Note: Generally, property brought into a marriage, inherited, or received as a gift is not subject to division and is known as separate property.
Once all property is identified, the debts are subtracted from the assets, thereby resulting in an overall value of the marital property. This number may be positive or negative depending on the ratio of debts to assets. But before the adding and subtracting can begin, each piece of property must first be valued.
In many instances, an asset or debt may be valued with relative ease, such as the amount of credit card debt, the outstanding mortgage liability, or the present value of a retirement account, investment account or life insurance policy. The fair market value of real estate may also be relatively calculable (although these values may be contested in some situations).
In other cases, the valuation of a property may not be so easy to establish. This is often the case with business interests. Each business and business interest must be evaluated and assigned a fair market value before distribution is possible. This often requires the assistance of a financial expert, such as a CPA, forensic accountant, and/or a business valuation professional to value the business and testify in court.
There are also some cases where the parties disagree as to the date of valuation of a particular piece of property.
When valuation of a property is disputed, it is critically important to hire competent, experienced legal counsel to help you secure the property division that you deserve.
The Actual Division of the Property
Texas is a community property state, which means that all marital property acquired or incurred during the marriage – assets and debts – is subject to a just and right division. Once a final number is determined, the property can be divided accordingly.
Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean an equal division. Oftentimes a fair and equitable property division means something other than a 50/50 split.
Texas courts may consider a number of factors when determining whether to order an unequal property division during a divorce, including for example, a spouse’s fault in the break up of the marriage.
Property Division is Final
Unlike orders and agreements regarding child support and spousal support, it is important to realize that an order regarding the property division in a divorce case is not modifiable, no matter what happens down the road (i.e., winning the lottery, losing everything in the stock market, etc.)
Of course, there are a few, limited exceptions to this general rule, such as when one party can prove that the other party committed fraud at the time of the property division.
If You Are Contemplating Divorce and Need Assistance With Property Division, Contact Our Skilled Denton Attorneys Today
When it comes to property division, you should not take any chances with inexperienced or incompetent legal counsel. You need a legal team who will fight for your rights. The experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Gregory C. Goline, PLLC can help you walk away from your divorce with what you fairly deserve. As an experienced divorce attorney, I will work hard to protect your interests when negotiating or litigating the property division in your case.
We have good relationships with many experts, and we have earned a reputation as a leading divorce law firm. If your case contains complex issues of fact or law, we can help.
Call (940) 465-9872 or contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with a member of our experienced legal team. We are proud to serve Denton County and all of North Texas. We accept credit cards and have payment plans available for your convenience.