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Actions That Can Turn Your Personal Property into Marital Property Under Texas Divorce Law

One of the most confusing issues my clients experience during a Texas divorce pertains to how the law governs division of marital property. Unfortunately, in numerous situations, my clients lose assets they owned prior to marriage simply because they failed to protect their rights properly before or during the marriage.

In a community property state like Texas, determining marital and non-marital assets becomes rather complex. For example, even if you have sole ownership of a bank account or property you owned prior to the marriage, the law sees financial gains on those assets earned during the marriage as marital property. However, based on the General Rules for Separate and Community Property established by Texas law, you may at times unintentionally convert your personal property into marital property:

  • Co-mingling funds — The moment you deposit your personal money into a joint account with your spouse, that money becomes marital property.
  • Inadvertent title changes — You may have owned a home prior to marriage but refinancing in both names eventually results in a deed showing both names.
  • Using marital funds to purchase assets — Even if you use marital funds to purchase a car or another asset and title it under your name, the courts consider it marital property. You have to use your own non-marital funds to ensure you retain ownership after divorce.
  • Walking away from your personal assets — Naturally, you may have to leave your home and personal possessions for many reasons without losing rights to your own property. However, in cases of abandonment, your spouse can successfully petition the courts to gain control over your property — and even sell it.

In many cases, protecting your rights to your personal property is a matter of knowing how to keep it separate during your marriage. An experienced Houston divorce lawyer can help you learn what to expect based on your specific circumstances.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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