It is common for property division to be the most pressing concern for people divorcing if they don’t have kids. Even for those with children, the outcome of splitting up your assets and debts will have a major impact on your life after the divorce and the quality of life that you can provide for your children.

If you think divorce may be in your immediate future but you feel worried about losing much of your property, learning a little bit more about how Texas approaches property division during divorce can give you a sense of confidence when you file for divorce and make it easier for you to strategize as you plan for the end of your marriage.

Texas is a community property state for contested divorce

The first thing you need to understand is that not everyone fights with their ex over who gets what in the divorce. If you have a marital contract, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or if you and your ex work together through mediation or negotiations to reach mutually agreeable property division decisions, you can file an uncontested divorce where you retain the rights to split your property.

However, if you need the courts to enter and make decisions about who gets what, the state will turn to statutes regarding community property to decide how to split your assets.

Much of what you earn and acquire while married is community property

Everything you own, from your credit card debt to your house, falls into one of the two legal categories in the eyes of the Texas family courts. Your assets and debts are all either community property shared between spouses or separate property owned by you as an individual.

Understanding what constitutes separate property can make it easier to determine what is community property. Separate property includes items owned outright before marriage (provided that the spouses did not engage in sharing or commingling), gifts and inheritances. Almost everything else that you get during your marriage will be community property potentially subject to division.

Purchases, debts, accounts and assets in one person’s name can theoretically be the shared property of both spouses. In other words, it doesn’t really matter whose name is on the retirement account. What the courts will care about is when you and your spouse made deposits into that account. The courts will also look at other factors, such as your current earning potential, as well as the length of your marriage. Once you know what is subject to division, it will be easier to plan for your future.