When making the tough decision to file for divorce, you might start to wonder what will happen to all of your shared belongings, including vehicles, furniture and accounts. Each state’s laws around property division generally fall into one of two categories: equitable distribution or community property.
In equitable distribution states, the property is divided at the judge’s discretion. He or she takes multiple factors into consideration including education level, earning potential, custody arrangements and more. Texas, however, is one of only nine states in the United States that is under community property law.
What community property means for debts
Under community property law, there is a presumption that each spouse will receive half of all property, assets and income purchased or received during the marriage. This is regardless of who works or not and how much each partner earns or spends. You may be surprised to learn that this applies to all accrued debts as well.
Regardless of whose name the card is in and who spent the majority of the available credit, each spouse will typically be responsible for an equal amount of the acquired debt. What matters most in these instances is whether or not you were married when you made the purchases.
There are exceptions to this. A judge may decide to alter the equal distribution of debts or assets if there is a compelling reason. You can also do this if you and your spouse negotiate and consent to a non-community property agreement in writing. It still may not hold, however, if the agreement does not adhere to the state’s particular eligibility requirements for prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Depending on how contentious your divorce is, you may find it helpful to receive guidance from someone familiar with community property law and exceptions.