Attention to Detail Matters
One of the main purposes of a divorce is to divide the community property of the couple getting divorced.
To accomplish that division, the parties typically come up with a list or inventory of their assets, and that list gets put into the divorce decree, along with a designation of who is going to own the property moving forward. After the divorce, there won’t be any more community property – everything will be owned as the separate property of one of the parties, or in rare circumstances, the parties may agree to continue to own something jointly.
But what happens if something is left out of the decree? What happens if the parties own some property that they fail to list in the decree, either accidentally or on purpose?
In that case, the parties continue to own the property jointly, but it is not community property – it can’t be since there is no longer a community.
The jointly owned property is subject to a Post-Dissolution Property Division Suit under Chapter 9 of the Texas Family Code.
The code states:
“If a court of this state failed to dispose of property subject to division in a final decree of divorce or annulment even though the court had jurisdiction over the spouses or over the property, the court shall divide the property in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.”
What that means is that the court can divide the property in whatever proportion the court believes is fair. So if you leave something out of your decree, you may end up getting none of it, after a Post-Dissolution Suit.
Given all of that what's the take away? Don't leave things out of your divorce decree. Tell your attorney everything. And when you are advised by your attorney to carefully review a proposed decree to be sure that nothing has been left out, take the time and do it.
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