Is Texas a Community Property State?

Texas is a community property state, meaning all property gained by either spouse during their marriage is owned jointly.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
There are nine community property states in the United States, and
is one of them. This means both spouses in any divorce in Texas are entitled to half of the assets gained during their marriage, including real estate and income.
Divorce can become even more complicated when you start to divide up property. Who’s going to get the car? The plasma screen TV? The house?
The question of property ownership can become heated very quickly in divorce disputes. You can claim belongings purchased under your name as your own personal property in most states—but marital property has to be split equally in community property states, like Texas.
The licensed home and
car insurance
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is here to help you understand the basics of Texas community property law. You’ll learn the definition of community property and some exceptions to the rule.

What is a community property state?

In community property states, property gained by either spouse during a marriage becomes jointly owned and has to be split evenly in the event of a divorce. This includes income, savings, retirement accounts, real estate, and personal property. Any debt incurred by one or both spouses during their marriage is also included. 
Texas is a community property state, joining the ranks of: 
  • Arizona
  • California 
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada 
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
The other U.S. states follow a common law property system, meaning anyone going through a divorce can claim income and property owned in their names. If your ex’s name isn’t on the papers, you’ll be able to claim your assets in a common law divorce. In contrast, community property laws are meant to help simply divorce proceedings by dividing the property evenly.

Separate property vs. joint property

Most property acquired during marriage will fall under community property law, but there are exceptions to the law. These are considered to be separate property
  • Any gifts received by you or your spouse
  • Anything inherited by you or your spouse during your marriage
  • Anything you or your spouse gained through a will or trust fund
  • Anything you or your spouse had before getting married
  • Anything you or your spouse gained during a legal separation

What is considered community property in Texas?

Any property that you or your spouse acquired while you were married and domiciled in Texas is considered to be community property, regardless of whose name is signed on the papers. 
Wait, what does “domiciled” mean? This legal term means your permanent residence or the location you live at full-time.
Here’s an example: you and your spouse own a summer house in the Lone Star State, but your full-time residence is located in a common law state. Any of your property in Texas will not be subject to community property law so long as your permanent home is in a common law state. 
Your home is considered to be community property in Texas unless you or your spouse bought it before you got married. The same rule applies to your cars—even if the only name on the paperwork is yours, it is joint property if it was purchased while you were married and residing in Texas.  

What if there’s a prenup? 

Prenuptial agreements can circumvent community property laws in Texas. Signing a prenup outlines how to divide your financial assets during a divorce in advance, regardless of your state’s laws.

How is community property divided in Texas?

Community property laws were designed to help make divorce proceedings easier, but splitting up marital property evenly can be complicated. After all, you can’t split a TV in half!
Generally, there are two options in Texas for dividing community property:
  • Allow a judge to split your property
  • Come to a settlement with the other party
A judge will assign each spouse property based on individual finances, child custody, the origin and nature of the property, and other deciding factors. The total property given to each party will be equal to the net value of the property assigned to the other spouse. 

How to save on home and auto insurance in Texas

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