When couples are going through a divorce, it often leads to battling and bickering over who gets to keep certain things. Most of these worries involve cars, the family home, children, expensive jewelry and artwork, savings, and businesses. However, one of the most recent common concerns seen in San Antonio divorces are vacation houses.
Many couples acquire vacation homes that they travel to during the holidays or summer months to enjoy family time, but, when going through a divorce, one of the first questions they find themselves asking is who gets to keep the vacation house.
What does Texas say about marital property?
Texas is one of nine community property states in the United States. A community property state means that the courts in that state believe that all property and items received, earned, or bought during a marriage belong to both spouses. There are some exceptions, but in general, both spouses own the property equally.
Is a vacation house considered marital property?
It depends. To answer this question, you will need to think about if the house was a gift, an inheritance, or if you and your spouse bought the property together. Texas considers gifts and inheritances as separate property, but anything bought during the marriage is typically considered shared marital property.
Separate property may also include property or items you purchased before a marriage that were used and kept up by both spouses. In other words, if you purchased a home before you were married, but your spouse contributed to the upkeep of the house, its monthly mortgage, and/or renovations to the home, that could become marital property.
If your vacation house is a marital asset, it will most likely be divided among you and your spouse equally.
What if both spouses want the vacation house?
Sometimes, spouses make it easy and decide that one person will get the family home while the other person will get the vacation house. However, it is also very common for both spouses to decide that they want the vacation house. Either they want to continue using the vacation house to take their children when they are out of school, or they want to rent it out to make money. Regardless of your reasoning for wanting the vacation house, it is important to know what to expect when this type of dilemma arises.
Since a vacation house cannot be cut in half, there is a very good chance that this asset will need to be liquidated to make things easier for the property division and divorce process. This is usually done by selling the property and dividing the money received from the sale between both spouses. If you and your spouse agree to this, you can use the money to put toward a new vacation house for you and your children, and you will be the only owner.
If you and your spouse do not want to sell the property, this can make things more difficult. One solution is for you and your spouse to hold onto the house and develop a mutual joint-use agreement. The agreement should explain in detail which months or dates that each of you plan to visit or use the house, the rules that each of you expect with the house, and how you plan to share the house.
Even if this may be a possible solution, it is important to keep in mind that the courts could decide to throw out this agreement and require the sale of the property. Many couples think that they can make and uphold this type of agreement, but they end up in court because of family drama involving the house years later. Therefore, splitting the money made from selling the house or giving it to only one spouse is usually the court’s preference.
What if only one spouse wants to keep the vacation house?
If you want to keep the vacation house but your spouse has no interest in keeping it, you may be able to deduct it from the other assets that are owed to you in the divorce, or you may be required to buy out your spouse’s part of the house. However, once you are given the house, you will need to refinance it and have your spouse’s name removed from the deed. If your spouse cannot agree to you giving up an asset that is of equal value to the vacation house or to paying them for their part of the house, the court will likely decide that you must sell the property.
How to prove that a vacation house is separate property
In order to prove that a vacation house is separate property, it would have to be something that you bought before the marriage began, or it would have to be something you inherited or were given as a gift alone during the marriage. You will need evidence that is very clear in showing that the vacation house only belongs to you. Our San Antonio divorce lawyers know the ins and outs of these types of situations and will gather proper evidence to convince the court that the vacation house is your separate property.
Any type of divorce is stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming. There are often disputes, arguments, and disagreements from both parties going through this tough time. However, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on important assets, a San Antonio divorce attorney from Grable Grimshaw, PLLC can work with you to reach the best outcome possible for your case. All you have to do is let our team know what assets you own and would like to keep, and we will do everything we can to try to make this happen for you. Call our office or submit our contact form today to ensure that you have a strong lawyer by your side throughout this difficult and complicated process.