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Marital Property Rights and Obligations

Texas law permits that each spouse has the sole management, control, and disorder of their respective separate property.  Additionally, community property that a spouse would own, if single, including wages/salary, income from separate property, and personal injury settlements or judgments are under that respective spouse's sole management, control, and disorder.  However, that does not entitle a spouse to frivolously waste community property.  All other community property is called "joint management community property" because the property is subject to both spouses' joint management, control, and disorder.

The Texas Family Code provides that generally separate property is not subject to the liabilities of the other spouse.  Sole management community property is subject to liability for the liabilities incurred prior and during the marriage of the managing spouse.  Also, sole management community property is open to attack to satisfy an obligation of the other spouse if the debt was incurred for necessaries or by the torturous conduct of the other spouse.  Joint management community property is subject to liabilities incurred by both spouses prior and during the marriage.

Another general rule to remember is that the nature of a contractual obligation may characterize the debt as either a separate or community debt.  For example, if a creditor looks specifically to one spouse and that spouse's separate estate to satisfy the debt, then generally the debt is separate property liability and the purchased item(s) are separate property.