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Texas is one of nine states in the nation that recognizes and divides assets under community property laws. When couples purchase homes, assets and other properties during their marriage, both individuals have an equal ownership right to them.

The exception to a 50/50 ownership stake is when two spouses have signed an agreement verifying that a particular asset is one individual’s separate property. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may contain terms specifying which assets acquired before or during a marriage are separate from the couple’s community property.

Without an agreement, a family court judge views all income, assets and property as belonging equally to both divorcing spouses. A spouse may, however, still pursue options to acquire full ownership of a formerly shared home after a divorce.

Buying out a spouse’s portion of ownership

During the divorce proceedings, one spouse may demonstrate a reasonable need to take 100% ownership of community property such as the family’s primary residence. A parent taking full custody of the children may, for example, wish to continue living in the house with the kids to maintain their current living standards.

Because both spouses have an equal ownership right to the home and its equity value, one may need to buy out the other spouse’s portion. As reported by Forbes magazine, appraising a house and taking out a mortgage may then allow an individual to acquire the property.

A professional appraisal process determines the home’s fair market value. Generally, when a couple wishes to sell their home rather than continue to reside there, each spouse receives half of the property’s market value after subtracting the balance of the current mortgage, capital gains taxes and other expenses.

Discussing an ownership arrangement before going to court

Resolving the issue of property ownership may take place before the actual court proceedings begin. It could require several discussions before a couple enters the courtroom, but working out an arrangement beforehand can help the process go smoother. When one spouse made a much greater contribution to a home’s purchase, maintenance and taxes, the court may consider those factors.