Does My Spouse Have a Right to a House I Owned Before Our Marriage? A Texas Divorce Attorney Explains.

Are you considering or dealing with a divorce? How about determining which party has the legal rights to certain property? Do you want to keep property that you owned prior to your marriage? Have you consulted with an experienced Texas divorce attorney to see what is the proper path forward? Here are a few frequently asked questions that should help you along your journey to make your situation and process a little easier. 

Does My Spouse Have a Right to a House I Owned Before Our Marriage

Can I Keep a House I Owned Prior to My Marriage?

The first thing that you need to know is that Texas is one of the nine community property jurisdictions in the United States. In community property states, all property acquired after a marriage is jointly owned by both spouses and all property acquired before the marriage is generally considered to be separate property.

This is critically important in the state of Texas: a home that was bought before a marriage is separate property in Texas.

Separate property is not community property so the spouse that owned the home prior to the marriage will retain that home. Even if the couple lived in the home for the majority of their marriage, the spouse who owned it prior still retains ownership.

However, this does not mean you are completely in the clear. A lawyer may put in a community reimbursement claim because the couple may have been paying the mortgage together or a spouse may have paid for a significant home improvement project. While the spouse who owns the home will most likely retain ownership they may have to pay for reimbursement to the other spouse. 

How to determine what is owed?

This is one of the complicated areas during the process. It is extremely helpful to have legal counsel to assist you during the process. Premarital property is usually awarded to the party who brought the belongs into the marriage and that means that the other spouse has no rights to the property or items in question. There are rare cases with an extenuating circumstance where the ruling could be completely different.

The court system typically divides the marital property that the couple purchased together. These are usually items and situations where the court rules that each spouse is entitled to a share. Your property and investments that dated before your marriage are more than likely to remain in your sole custody. It is important that you keep your assets solely and completely in your name, and that your marriage did not benefit or affect the value of your assets. If your property increases in value during your marriage you should keep documentation and memos pertaining to the work and monies that you have put in over this timeframe, these should show specifics and also monetary value that has increased, decreased or invested. Being able to show where your additional income and investments have obtained value will surely help you during the divorce.

If the property grows in value due to passive appreciation, it will also remain in your custody. And, if your home grows in active appreciation there may be a ruling for the property to be shared. This means that your property has grown due to contributions from your spouse either in monetary value or sweat equity.

What do divorce attorneys handle?

Divorce lawyers specialize in civil law, they are sometimes referred to as family practice lawyers. The position is so important in this field because of the level of emotions and life-changing decisions that are involved. So, divorce lawyers handle very delicate situations such as divorce, marriage annulment, and other legalities associated with separation and child custody, child support and visitation rights are also covered.

How long does a divorce last?

A Texas divorce attorney reports that every court-related situation can vary anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Every situation also depends on the type of divorce being filed and how the actual documents are being filed. There are four major divorce filings that may take place and these are fault or no-fault divorce, simplified divorce or contested or uncontested divorce. The stipulations and requirements for each document should be suitable for your situation. If you do not know what the best option is for you, an attorney can help you with the proceedings. The allotted time frame can be affected by the courts decision factors as well as each parties allowed time to gather all information.

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