Do I Need An Attorney For Property Division in Divorce

Do I Need An Attorney For Property Division in Divorce outlines some basic property division guidelines as listed below:

What property and debt is divided in a divorce?

Community property and debt is divided in a divorce. Separate property and debt is not divided.

At the end of your divorce case, a judge will divide your property and debt by signing a Final Decree of Divorce. The Final Decree of Divorce will:

  • list the community property each spouse will keep or in some circumstances order community property (such as a house) sold and say how the proceeds should be split,
  • list the separate property (if any) of each spouse,
  • list the debts each spouse is ordered to pay, and

order that the community property retirement benefits of each spouse are either:

  • awarded (given) 100% to the spouse who earned the benefits or
  • divided between the spouses.


What is community property and debt?

Community property includes all property you and your spouse have at the time of divorce except property that a spouse can prove (or the spouses agree) is the separate property of one spouse.

Your community property may include real estate (a house or land), a business, cars, money, retirement accounts, furniture and other things earned or purchased by either spouse during your marriage. It doesn’t matter which spouse’s earnings were used to purchase the property or which spouse’s name is on the title.

Community debt is debt you or your spouse got during the marriage.

The law says that community property and debt should be divided when you get divorced in way that is “just and right.” This does not necessarily mean 50/50.

What is separate property and debt?

Separate property includes:

  • property owned or claimed by one spouse before the marriage,
  • property received as a gift or inheritance to one spouse during the marriage,
  • money received by one spouse for personal injuries that occurred during the marriage (not including money received for lost wages or medical expenses), and
  • stock dividends and capital gains on the separate property investments of one spouse.

Unless both spouses agree, a spouse must prove that something is separate property by “clear and convincing evidence.” If a spouse cannot prove something is separate property, it is considered to be community property.

Separate debt is debt one spouse got before the marriage.

The law says that separate property cannot be divided. Once something is proved to be separate property the judge must confirm it as the separate property of that spouse.

Who Can Help Me With Property Division?

While you do not have to have an attorney to handle your property division, it is recommended. Many couples believe if they are on agreeable terms that sorting through the division of their property and debt alone is the way to go. The issue with this is that often times one party will walk away in a better position. This may be because they had more insight into the shared finances, or this may be an innocent oversight.

Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you to protect yourself from being left with an unfair outcome. Attorney Dawn Renken has worked with couples from many different financial backgrounds to come together and properly divide their property.

Do Judges Ever Divide Property Unevenly?

Yes, your judge may grant one party more assets or more debts after taking all factors of your divorce into consideration. Working with an attorney again can help you to protect yourself from getting the short end of the stick in final settlement decisions.

Some factors your judge will consider include:

  • Who was at fault in breaking up the marriage
  • The earning capacities and education of the parties
  • The parties’ ages and health, any special needs of the children; and
  • The separate property owned by either spouse

The two primary reasons that divorce judges will award one spouse more than 50% of the community property is a big difference in the ability to earn money in the future and fault in the break up of the marriage.

Affordable Divorce Attorney in Houston

Renken Law Firm is here to help couples who wish to dissolve their marriage, whether that be through divorce or legal separation. We are here to help those who are ending marriages that have been contested, uncontested, or collaborative.

All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.


Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
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