Tag Archives: divorce

Community property vs. separate property

What is the difference between community property and separate property and why is it important in a divorce?  

Texas uses a community-property system to govern the property rights of married people.

Community property is the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage.  Examples of community property can include cash on hand, a house or other type of real property interest, motor vehicles, insurance policies, investments, business interests, and retirement, such as a 401(k) or company pension plan.

Separate property generally consists of the following:

  • Property owned before the marriage (e.g., a house bought before the marriage);
  • Property acquired by gift (e.g., an engagement ring); or an
  • Inheritance.

In Texas, courts divide the community property of the marriage upon divorce.  However, courts are prohibited from dividing a party’s separate property, which is why the distinction can be so important in a divorce proceeding.

Should you have questions concerning your property rights, please do not hesitate to consult with a qualified lawyer specializing in family law.

What to expect from an initial consultation

An initial consultation provides a great opportunity for a prospective client to meet with a lawyer and gain valuable information about their case.  The consultation also provides a chance for both individuals to “get a feel for each other.”  In other words, the prospective client is looking for a “good fit.”

Yet, this is a two-way street; the lawyer, in turn, is also interviewing the prospective client.  And like any good relationship, the two must commit to each other.

An excellent consultation consists of the following:

1. Gather Facts – Most lawyers love to hear themselves talk; but, when looking for a lawyer, it is far better to seek one who listens.  It is imperative that the lawyer understands the particular and unique facts of your case.  Thus, he must “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

2. Identify the Issues – After listening to the prospective client intently, a good lawyer will identify the appropriate legal issues.

3. State the Law – Once the issues are defined, the lawyer should expound upon the law as it applies to the prospective client’s case.

4. Provide Alternatives – Prospective clients are interested in their choices.  A good lawyer will provide options and walk through the strategy behind the respective alternatives.

5. Explain the Process – Most people who find themselves in the mix of litigation never imagined this as a possibility; therefore, it is important to detail the process of the case, as knowledge and understanding will help reduce fear.  A good lawyer will review deadlines, attorney fees and the use of retainers, as well as answer any other questions the prospective client may ask.

Ultimately, an initial consultation should provide a prospective client with a detailed and honest assessment of their case.