Whether you've been married for a few years or for several decades, property division may be the most complex aspect of your divorce, especially if you've accumulated significant wealth.
For many people, property division at divorce forms the foundation of their financial lives for many years to come.
Fair and realistic property valuation is crucial to obtaining a fair divorce settlement.
In Texas the assets and debts acquired during the marriage are presumed to be community property, which is divisible between the spouses. In addition to the house, vehicles and bank accounts, community property may include complex assets such as your business, stocks and bonds, international asset holdings, intellectual property, retirement savings, and more.
While Texas law calls for a "just and right" division of community property, a 50/50 split is not always a foregone conclusion. In fact, an even split would be inappropriate in many situations, and a comprehensive valuation of assets is needed to achieve a settlement that is truly fair.
At Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C., we work with financial experts and appraisers to determine the value of community property and how complex assets should be divided equitably. Multiple factors such as capital gains taxes may have to be considered to achieve a fair divorce settlement.
We also help our clients trace separate property to its origin. Separate property, such as inheritances and gifts received by only one spouse, can be kept out of the divorce settlement, but there must be proof that the property is separate in order for you to retain 100 percent of the value.
What happens to the retirement account?
When a pension or other retirement plan needs to be divided between divorcing spouses, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order - or QDRO - can be used to name an alternate payee to receive all or part of the benefits otherwise payable to the plan participant. With a QDRO, an alternate payee could be the participant's spouse, ex-spouse, child or other dependent.
A divorce lawyer with experience in complex asset division can help you obtain a QDRO with a view toward achieving a fair division of retirement assets. For more on these issues, please see our overview of marital property division in Texas.
For more on dividing business assets in a divorce, please see our previous post, "3 Things to Do If Your Texas Divorce Involves a Business."