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How marital waste can affect property division in Texas

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Property Division

It is normal for people to worry about property division when they divorce. Couples in Texas are subject to community property rules. The state typically expects them to share whatever they acquire during the marriage. The income and property of both spouses become marital or community property that they have to share if they later divorce. Spouses can negotiate a property division settlement with one another or can ask a judge to review an inventory of marital resources and apply community property statutes to their situation.

The division of assets requires the careful consideration of unique marital issues. In some cases, the intentional waste of marital resources could affect the outcome of Texas property division proceedings.

What actually constitutes marital waste?

If someone marries a romantic partner who has a history of frivolous spending, they accept those habits as part of their financial future. However, if someone makes unexpected and unusual changes to their financial behavior during a marriage, their conduct could affect the property division process.

Some people intentionally waste marital assets as a way of punishing their spouse or manipulating the outcome of Texas divorce proceedings. Marital waste might involve spending money to empty a checking account or maxing out credit cards on unnecessary purchases. Marital waste could also involve the intentional destruction of marital property, such as smashing a phone and other electronic devices.

Waste can involve selling assets for far below their fair market value or giving away marital property to diminish the marital estate. Judges may also consider marital income spent on an extramarital affair as a form of waste or dissipation.

How waste can affect the divorce process

Texas judges usually don’t pay much attention to misconduct when dividing marital property. However, scenarios involving waste or dissipation are the exception to that rule. If either spouse can prove that the other intentionally reduced the value of the marital estate through wasteful behavior, that conduct could alter how a judge divides property and debts in a divorce.

Judges can make one spouse accountable for unnecessary debt taken on immediately prior to a divorce filing or generated while conducting an extramarital affair. Judges can also award the other spouse a greater share of the marital estate. Someone asking a judge to consider marital waste typically needs financial records affirming their claims to prevail during litigation. Evidence of dissipation or waste could also affect negotiations and mediation sessions.

Addressing financial misconduct can be an important consideration when dividing a marital estate in a Texas divorce. Spouses who identify and quantify wasteful conduct may be able to demand economic justice during their divorce proceedings.