equitable claim

When you go through a divorce in Texas, property division can be a stressful ordeal. Texans experience a property division process quite different than that of most American divorced couples.

Texas is one of only nine states with “community property” division of marital assets. Community property division is different from the common law system used in most states.

What Is Community Property?

Community property laws sound simple in theory. Anything that you bring into the marriage is your separate property. Anything you earn or buy during the marriage is community property. It doesn’t matter who earns money or who signs their name to the title on a purchase—it belongs to the “community” of two spouses.  

Examples of community property include:

  • All income from jobs, including tips;
  • Contributions to a retirement account or pension;
  • Unemployment payments;
  • A house purchased during the marriage; and
  • A car purchased during the marriage.

At the time of divorce, community property is divided between the spouses.

What Are Exceptions to Community Property?

Of course, there are exceptions to these community property laws. Property that you brought into the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance is considered separate property. Here are a few examples of separate property:

  • A house purchased before the marriage,
  • Vehicles purchased before the marriage,
  • Retirement contributions made before the marriage, and
  • An inheritance or gift gained before or during the marriage.

Separate property is not divided during divorce proceedings. Each spouse keeps separate property, and it does not factor into community property division.

When Can You Get Community Property Reimbursement?

To complicate things more, there are exceptions to the community property exceptions. For instance, if a spouse brings a house into the marriage, that house is considered separate property. However, if the couple spends money on mortgage payments or upkeep of the house after getting married, that contribution comes from community funds.

During a divorce settlement, the spouse who does not own the house can ask for reimbursement of the community contribution to the house.

When the non-owning spouse asks for reimbursement, the community estate is essentially bringing an equitable claim against the owning spouse’s separate estate. The community estate can ask for reimbursement of mortgage payments and maintenance expenses paid during the marriage. This reimbursement includes the cost of non-paid labor, such as home repairs that the non-owning spouse performed. 

However, the owning spouse’s separate estate will not directly reimburse the non-owning spouse. Instead, the owning spouse’s separate estate will repay the community estate for these costs. Then this reimbursed amount is distributed, along with all other community property, between the spouses.

Contact an Austin Family Law Attorney

Reimbursing community property is a complicated area of family law. If you think your spouse might owe the community estate reimbursement, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney. At the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC, I offer skilled legal representation in even the most contentious divorces. 

I represent all my clients with equal parts knowledge and passion, fighting for your fair share of the community estate. Contact me for a consultation, and we’ll review your equitable claim, finding what community property should be reimbursed from your spouse’s separate property.

If you need one of the best-educated family lawyers in Austin to assist you with a complicated divorce, I want to help you (read more on my credentials here). Give me a call, and we’ll start fighting for the property share that you deserve.   

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