Texas is known as a “community property” state. Many people that come into my office and are thinking about divorce, have heard the term community property but don’t know what community property really means.
Generally speaking, community property is property that each member of the marriage owns an undivided interest in. Both the wife and the husband have an equal ownership interest in a marriage. At the time a divorce is entered, this property must be divided between the parties and becomes each of the parties separate property. Often times, couples believe that if they have separate bank accounts they still have separate property. This however, is not the case. This can be confusing because Texas law allows for a husband and a wife to exercise sole control of community property even though both spouses technically own the property.
Under Texas law, all property acquired during marriage is presumed to be community property. Separate property is made up of the parties property they owned before the marriage or property they received during the marriage through gift, devise, or decent. Thus, all property the couple owns is either separate or community property. Additionally, community property can be solely controlled by either the husband or the wife, but this does not define if it is separate or community property. What defines the properties statues is how and when the property was acquired. For example if the husband, while married, takes the wages from his job and deposits them into a bank account solely in his name, that property is subject to his sole control. However because that property was acquired during marriage and was not acquired by gift, decent, or devise it is considered community property that both the husband and wife hold an undivided ownership interest in. Even though the property came from the husband’s job, and it is kept in a bank account solely in the husband’s name, the property belongs to both the husband and his spouse as community property.