Buying a house while separated in Texas might seem like a good idea, but you may soon be dealing with unwanted legal consequences. It would seem smart until you discover the laws regarding separation in Texas and property ownership during marriage.
If you’re living separately with your spouse and are contemplating property ownership, it is important that you seek the legal counsel of a divorce lawyer.
In this article, we’ll highlight the laws regarding separation in the state and how marital property is treated during separation.
What Are the Consequences of Buying a House While Separated in Texas?
Legally, your house will still be treated as marital or community property, which both spouses equally own. In the eyes of the law in Texas, spouses who are living separately are still considered married, and any property acquired during this separation period may be subject to division.
Legal Separation in Texas
Legal separation isn’t an option for Texas couples looking to avoid divorce. You have to go through the state’s divorce process if you want to end your marriage. However, spouses can make temporary arrangements to enable them to live apart before filing for a divorce.
Property division in Texas can only happen when spouses file a divorce. Before a divorce is finalized, spouses are considered married, even if they live separately for months or years, and both spouses own the marital property equally.
Is It Possible to Buy a House Without Your Spouse in Texas?
Unless you’ve saved up a load of money or you’re inheriting a house from a friend or family member, there’s virtually no way you can acquire a new home without involving your spouse. If you’re getting a mortgage to finance the purchase, your spouse’s inclusion in the loan will be automatic.
Both of you will have to go through a credit check. The mortgage company and title company will need your spouse’s signature on some documents before closing. Generally, buying a house without your spouse is difficult as the law sees them as part owners of the house.
However, this move is possible if your spouse grants permission. They would need to sign some documents to show that they are on board with the idea. While this is possible, it isn’t advisable.
Is It Advisable to Purchase a House While Separated?
If your marriage is irretrievably broken and all signs point to a divorce, it is probably a bad idea to buy a house when living separately with your spouse. Any real or personal property you acquire without your spouse during this period doesn’t qualify as separate property during a divorce.
From a financial standpoint, buying a house while living separately from your spouse or before finalizing a divorce is still not advisable. The divorce process is usually long and expensive. You’ll spend so much on attorney fees, bills, moving costs, not to mention the possible child support – it doesn’t feel like the time to invest in a new house.
– Take Into Account Your Financial Situation
Moreover, divorce processes often have a surprise element. Spouses don’t always get the property they anticipated during the divorce. You may also be obligated to pay more debt than you expected. Simply put, predicting your financial situation after a divorce can be difficult.
Therefore, it would be better to hold off on buying a new house until you make a clear decision regarding divorce. Once you give it the green light, you should wait until it is final before making this financial move. If you choose to get back with your spouse, then you can go ahead and make the purchase.
Differentiating Separate and Community Property
Texas is a community property state. All the property acquired together during a marriage is considered community property. These may include your family home, car, and other investments.
Some of the property and assets that can be considered separate property in Texas include:
- Assets owned before marriage.
- Property received as a gift before marriage.
- Personal injury compensation award.
During a divorce, only community property is subject to division, while each spouse keeps their separate property. By speaking to an attorney, you’ll find out what property may be divvied up in the event of a divorce.
Marital Property Partition Agreement in Texas
If you’re considering a house purchase while separated in Texas, having a marital agreement partition agreement can enable you to own it separately. Under Texas law, this agreement indicates a consensus with your spouse to convert community property into separate property. This could be a car, a bank account, or a house.
However, these agreements must be compliant with the law for enforceability. The law requires these agreements to be in writing and signed voluntarily by both parties. Before buying the house, you must provide your spouse with adequate information about the property. Additionally, you should speak to a lawyer if your spouse asks you to sign a marital property partition agreement or if you’re considering one.
Temporary Orders During a Divorce in Texas
Since legal separation isn’t possible in Texas, spouses who file a divorce often experience financial hurdles. Generally, spouses aren’t allowed to make significant financial changes due to a court order. Such changes include acquiring a new home.
In some state counties, courts will automatically issue standing orders once spouses file for a divorce. These orders prohibit spouses from doing things that could disrupt their marital property. Some of these include:
- Transferring or selling any property.
- Drawing large sums of money from bank accounts.
- Taking out new debt.
- Damaging property.
Such orders make it impossible for you to take a mortgage or withdraw money from a bank account considered marital property to fund the purchase of a new house. These orders allow spouses to continue using community property and money for their daily lives and to cater to everyday expenses, but not to make any significant financial changes.
Protecting Your House During a Separation in Texas
If by any means, you buy a house while living separately from your spouse in Texas, the best thing to do is come up with a marital property partition agreement with your spouse. Remember, you’re still legally married even if you live separately from your spouse for many years.
Drawing up a marital property partition agreement ensures that your house isn’t considered community property if you decide to file a divorce. Again, you should speak to a divorce attorney to find out the options you have to protect your separate property.
If you’re contemplating buying a house while separated in Texas, you should know the possible legal and financial implications. Usually, this can be difficult to pull off depending on your county of residence due to the various laws that exist. This article has highlighted the legality of separation in Texas and how it may affect the purchase of a new house. Here are the key points to remember:
- There’s no such thing as separation in Texas – any property you acquire while living separately with your spouse is still considered marital property.
- If you purchase a house while separated in Texas, the law sees it as jointly owned with your spouse and may be subject to property division upon divorce.
- Purchasing a new home while separated in Texas is possible if you and your spouse can come up with a marital property partition agreement.
- From a financial standpoint, buying a house married but separated isn’t advisable, especially if you haven’t made a clear decision about divorce.
While purchasing a house while separated in Texas is possible, it might have dire financial consequences, especially when you finally decide to file a divorce. Before making any significant financial decision involving marital property, it is important that you seek the legal counsel of a family law attorney to establish your legal limits and options.
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