When couples divorce, they usually spend time thinking about who will get the house, vacation property, and motor vehicles. But community property in need of division is much broader than real estate and cars.
Below, our League City divorce lawyers highlight some surprising forms of community property you need to think about when planning your divorce. As explained in the Texas Family Code, community property is anything other than property you acquired before marriage, gifts, inherited property, or any personal injury recovery.
Ideally, you and your spouse will reach an agreement on how to divide all community assets. If not, your family law judge has the responsibility of deciding who exits the marriage with community property, and you might not like the judge’s decision.
If you obtained digital assets while married, then they are considered community property. The most common type of digital assets are Kindle e-book collections and iTunes music libraries. Depending on the extent of your collection, these could represent a considerable sum of money.
Only one spouse might read books or listen to music so that spouse could sensibly leave the marriage with those assets. It’s very difficult if not impossible to sell these digital assets to someone else, so you would gain no advantage leaving the marriage with an e-book collection unless you read them.
More people are investing in Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, either to use in place of money or as an investment. According to Newsweek, around 46 million Americans owned Bitcoin in 2021, and we imagine the number has only increased since then. There are also hundreds of other cryptocurrencies that people invest in, like Ethereum and Monero.
Dividing these assets is complicated because they fluctuate so much in value. It isn’t unusual for Bitcoin to drop 10% in a day or to gain that much. These wild swings make it hard to divide community property 50/50. One option is to divide the amount of crypto you have in half, so each spouse is taking an equal risk.
Your pet is considered community property if you got him or her while married. Texas courts will not treat your dog, cat, or goldfish as equivalent to a child, so a judge won’t award custody and set up a visitation schedule. However, you could certainly come up with a visitation schedule voluntarily with your spouse. That way, each of you gains valuable time with your beloved pet even after divorce.
Fights over pets represent some of the most heated and emotional in a divorce. Please talk with your attorney if you have a pet.
If only one person takes care of the animal, then it makes sense for that person to leave with it. Also, consider how much it costs to take care of the animal. Pets like horses are expensive. Medical care and housing costs could be more than you are willing to pay.
Believe it or not, wages earned while married are considered community property. If you have money in a bank from wages, then you will need to divide it. Some people are surprised that they can’t leave the marriage with all the money they earned while working, but that’s not how community property rules work.
Wages include all tips and overtime pay. It also includes salaried income. Texas law doesn’t care whose name is on the bank account where the money is stored, or whether it is in a single or joint account.
Individual contributions to 401K, IRA, Roth IRA, and self-employed retirement accounts are also considered community property, as are pension contributions. Again, what matters is when you made the contributions. If you made them before marriage, then they are considered separate property. But if you made the contributions after marriage, they are community property.
Depending on the length of your marriage, a retirement account could be the largest asset a couple has to their name. Dividing it is complicated. To avoid penalties for early distributions, you will need the court to issue an order to the plan administrator to divide the property.
Contact Our Galveston Divorce Lawyer for Help
Many couples fail to fully appreciate how much property they own that is subject to division on divorce. This is one reason to hire a lawyer at Tad Nelson & Associates. We can perform a full review of all your assets and begin strategizing about which ones you hope to leave the marriage with. There are many considerations to keep in mind.