When you first get married, there is a clear understanding about what belongs to whom. It doesn’t take long before the Yours, Mine, and Ours categories blur. In Texas, because it’s a community property state, all the property a couple acquires together using community funds is considered community property and can be halved in a divorce.
This is when things get messy. What happens when your former spouse takes half of what you initially brought in to the marriage? (Side note: prenuptial agreements exist partially for this reason.) To recover the property that rightfully belongs to you, you will need legal representation.
Before we go into detail about why a lawyer is necessary, let’s look at some of the more basic elements of separate property.
What qualifies as separate property?
At the most basic level, separate property is any property acquired before marriage or acquired via inheritance during marriage. Everything you brought into the marriage, from your car to your trust fund, is considered separate property.
“What about the inheritance I received when my great-uncle passed away? That’s not community property, is it?” That’s a valid question. If one spouse inherits or is gifted money by a relative, it can remain separate property if it meets certain conditions:
- It is placed in a separate account, rather than the joint account
- Anything purchased with that money is titled in the account holder’s name only
- Property purchased with that money can be traced back to the separate funds
Outside of those two well-defined scenarios, you’ll need legal help recovering separate property.
How to recover separate property
If you used separate property toward community property (inheritance money as start-up funds for a new business, for instance), there are certain things you have to show in order to recover those funds:
- You have to show where the money came from.
- You have to know the specific amount.
- You have to show that it went directly to an asset (home, car, business, etc.).
Without that paper trail, you stand to lose half of your separate property because it’s viewed as a community asset. Boundary lines are unclear. That’s where a family attorney comes in.
Why you need help recovering separate property
For starters, an individual should not file a separate property claim with the court on their own. It requires legal representation. Additionally, you want a professional who understands the nuances of family law standing at your side through the process. It’s a good idea to have both a lawyer and an accountant in situations like this. Certain cases may result in a lawyer hiring a tracing accountant to confirm a specific dollar amount and testify as an expert in court. Separate property cases can be settled outside the courtroom, but a judge still has to sign the divorce order.
If you want to recover your separate property, you need a lawyer. If you need a lawyer, you want one familiar with Texas law and your rights. The family attorneys at Lovelace Law are here to help you resolve your property division issues. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation.