When two people get divorced in Texas, the laws are unique regarding how any existing debts in the marriage are divided. A judge must make a determination about division of property and debts that is considered “just and equitable.” However, what is just and equitable for one couple may be very different from what is just and equitable for another.
Texas Community Property Laws, Divorce and Debt
Texas is a community property state. This means that any property incurred by one partner during the course of the marriage is considered to be the joint—or the community—property of both spouses.
However, this is not necessarily true for the incurrence of debt; a person is only held liable for the debt of their spouse, under Texas Family Code Section 3.201, in the event that the spouse acts as an agent for the person, or the spouse incurs the debt for “necessaries.”
What is considered a necessary is, according to Texas Family Code, a duty to support the other spouse and a duty to support a child while the child is a minor. As such, if the debt in question was sustained as a result of supporting the other spouse or the child, then both partners may be jointly liable for that debt.
Splitting Debts in Divorce
Because a duty to support the other spouse and a duty to support a child can mean different things in different cases, the precise way in which debt will be divided in divorce varies on a case-by-case basis. What may be a “necessary” expense for one marriage may be unnecessary for another.
Debts that will usually be split equally (or at equitably as possible), however, are those debts for which both spouses are clearly liable, such as a credit card application that both spouses have signed. Separate property or debt, on the other hand, is not considered for division in divorce, and a spouse will not be held liable for their spouse’s separate debt if it was not incurred as a result of a necessary expense (support of spouse or child).
Legal Help in Determining Division of Debts
Understanding whether a marriage debt is considered to be separate or marital property, and whether or not the debt was made as part of a necessary expense or not, isn’t always straightforward. For the clarification you need, read about division of property in Dallas on our blog, or call The Texas Divorce Lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC at 214-290-8001 for a more detailed explanation.