Improvements to Separate Property in Property Division Cases

Separate property includes anything that was owned by one spouse before the marriage. Property is considered either separate or community property when assets are divided under Texas law. Dividing up property after a divorce can be the most difficult part of the process.

A common problem arises when something that’s considered separate property has used marital assets to make improvements or increase its value in some way. Whether you’re the owner or believe you’re owed for contributions made to a separate property, you need to speak to an attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Claims for Reimbursement

Separate property includes anything that was owned by one spouse before the marriage. While a property that was owned by one spouse before the marriage can remain separate throughout the relationship, it’s pretty common for marital assets to be directed to that separate property at some point.

One example of this would be a capital improvement. If one spouse came into the relationship with a vacation home, that would be separate property. If during the marriage marital funds were used to build an addition onto that home, the other spouse may make a claim for reimbursement.

A related situation is when money is still owed on a separate property. The reduction of the principal amount of that debt that occurs during the marriage can be the basis of a claim for reimbursement.

Claims for reimbursement can also be tied to a business. If one spouse contributes “time, toil, talent, and effort” to a business owned by the other spouse and hasn’t been properly compensated, that spouse can make a claim for reimbursement.

Fighting a Claim for Reimbursement

In some cases, the party seeking reimbursement is not entitled to what they want. Some situations are clear, but others involve open questions about the value of property or services. Whoever seeks the reimbursement has the burden of proving that they deserve it.

If you don’t believe that a claim for reimbursement is fair, you can fight back. There are several options. You can argue that the claim is offset by a reimbursement claim of your own. You can claim that your spouse was already compensated for what they contributed. Finally, you can argue that your spouse benefited from their contribution already.

The vacation home scenario offers one possible example of this. Money spent to maintain or improve a vacation home might be found insufficient to justify a reimbursement claim because it was used and enjoyed by both parties.

Call Our Fort Worth Divorce Attorneys Today

Property division can be a long, involved process. If you have questions about community versus separate property, or about reimbursement regarding a separate property, we can help. Call the Fort Worth offices of Schneider Law Firm at 817-755-1852 to schedule a consultation.