What is Community Property?
Community property is property that is acquired during the course of the marriage that is not separate property. It is does not matter whether both spouses are named on the title, deed, account, or benefits, as long as the property is acquired during the course of the marriage. For example, a vehicle purchased during the marriage is presumed to be community property even if title is taken in the name of only one spouse. Income or interest earned on separate property is community property. Moreover, separate property that is commingled with community property can lose its separate property characterization and become community property. The following are examples of various community property interests:
- earnings from a spouse's employment;
- income from a spouse's separate property;
- increases and mutations of and revenues from that spouse's sole management property;
- stock dividends;
- rents, revenues, and incomes from separate real property;
- certain business and partnership interests;
- employee benefits received during the course of the marriage;
- offspring from separate property livestock;
- proceeds derived from the sale of crops; and
- separate property that was acquired by the spouses while they were not residing in Texas, but would have been community if they had lived in Texas.
The duty of the family law court is to distribute the marital estate. Each spouse shall be awarded their separate property and the trial court should confirm the items as that spouse's sole and separate property. The community property shall be distributed in a "just and right" manner. Typically, in a no-fault divorce, trial judges start at a 50/50 split and deviate accordingly depending on the facts of the case. In a fault divorce or a divorce where one spouse has wasted community property, the trial court is likely to deviate from the 50/50 split: We have been involved in cases where our client has received over 80% of the marital assets.