Financial Considerations in a Texas Marriage

What should I consider from a legal standpoint prior to and during marriage?

A couple should fully disclose their financial information prior to marriage. There should be a mutual understanding of what each person earns, how much is in savings, how much credit card debt exists, and if either party owns any property.

Further, parties should continue to disclose and discuss all of their financial information during the marriage. Marriage is a union based on trust.

What is separate property?

Separate property is property purchased prior to the marriage. Examples include a home, land, money, or capital appreciation of separate property.

What is community property?

Any property acquired after the date of marriage with the exception of a gift or inheritance. Examples include income from either spouse, a home, land, capital appreciation of community property or separate property.

Is it always clear cut as to what is community property and what is separate property?

No it is not. In the context of divorce proceedings the presumption is that everything is community property. The burden of proof is on the spouse who is claiming separate property.

The lines between separate and community property can become blurred.  For example, if you buy property prior to marriage and pay off the loan for the purchase with your income or your spouse’s income after the marriage, that income utilized to pay down the loan is community property.  As a result, your spouse may have a claim for reimbursement for an equitable portion of the decrease in principal from the date of marriage to the date of the divorce.

What can I do to protect my separate property prior to marriage?

You may want to consider a prenuptial agreement to protect certain assets; or in the alternative just educate yourself by consulting an attorney on what steps you need to take to preserve your separate property prior to entering the marriage.

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