When a resident of Houston is facing a potential divorce, one the most anxiety-provoking issues is the division of marital property. The anxiety level is usually directly proportional to the amount of the couple’s assets. In other words, the more money and property that a couple owns, the higher their anxiety about how those assets will be divided in the divorce.
Community property vs. marital property
Because Texas was originally a Spanish colony, it has inherited many Spanish laws. Community property is one of those laws. In a Texas divorce, state law requires all property acquired during the marriage, including any increase in the value of assets owned before the marriage, must be divided equally. Separate property, that is, property owned by either spouse before the marriage became effected, is generally awarded to the spouse that owned it before the marriage.
As many Texans know, mediation is used to resolve difficult issues in many divorces. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person works with the parties to define areas of disagreement and to resolve those disputes. For high asset couples, mediation offers many benefits.
Using a mediator to assist in dispute resolution regarding asset division has several benefits.
- First, the mediator’s guaranteed neutrality ensures that both parties will have their concerns heard.
- Second, the mediator can help the parties understand the nature of both their community and separate property.
This understanding can help one or both parties find ways of dividing assets such as the family home, a family business or valuable assets such as antiques, art and jewelry.
Many high asset couples find that using mediation facilitates the use of appraisers, accountants and financial planners in finding and evaluating distribution proposals. Couples who have used mediation to assist in the division of assets have discovered that they do not spend as much on lawyers as they would if the case were tried before a judge.
Anyone who is facing a divorce that may feature a long and painful dispute about asset division may wish to consult an experienced family law attorney. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can evaluate the couple’s financial situation and provide valuable advice about the relative value using mediation vs. a courtroom trial.