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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Monday, January 30, 2023

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Separate and Community Property in Texas

Texas is one of nine community property states in the United States. Texas’s community property system stems from the 1845 Texas Constitutional Convention, where a delegate declared that the community property system would prevent a wife from being “forced to ‘sit weeping by, and see the whole of her property wasted in the midnight frolics by a drunken or gambling husband”.(1) Another delegate stated that without the community property principle of separate property, the vices of the husband might reduce the wife or the daughter to the “drudgery of the wash tub”.(2)

The protection of women’s property was common in the western states, serving as inducement for wives to follow their husbands to the frontier. This also allowed for women to benefit from the increased value of property during the marriage, even if they entered the marriage with no property of their own, and recognized their contribution as a stay-at-home wife to provide equal sharing of total earnings of both spouses.(3)

What is community property? Community property is presumed to be everything earned or acquired during marriage (with some stipulations). Community property gives equal 50% ownership of marital assets to each spouse. The spouses may have joint management of community property, or sole management of their own community property.

Examples of community property include income or retirement benefits earned during marriage, real property brought during marriage (even if only one spouse’s name is on the deed), joint or sole bank accounts, and income on separate property.

Separate property includes assets acquired before marriage or during marriage by gift or inheritance. Spouses can also declare their separate property by entering into a marital agreement stating or changing the character of the assets from community or separate. Separate property is owned 100% completely by that spouse, and the other spouse has no interest in it.

Examples of separate property include personal injury settlements, land inherited from your family, or a gift from your spouse or family member (such as a tennis bracelet or set of golf clubs). Whether an asset is community or separate property is vital if there is a death or divorce. If you would like to discuss your community or separate property, or the protection of said property, you should speak to an experienced estate planning or family law attorney.


1. James W. Paulsen, Community Property and the Early American Women's Rights Movement: the Texas Connection, 32 Idaho L. REV. 641, 654-655 (1995)

2. Id.

3. Thompson, Sandra, “Why Is Texas a Community Property State?”, (2019).

Julia “Jules” Pullin is an attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianships, and elder law. The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, has been named in the Top Five Top Estate Planning Firms by the Houston Chronicle, Reader’s Choice by Living Magazine, “Texas’ Most Outstanding Estate Planning Boutique” by Acquisition International and “Best Law Firm of the Year” by Lawyer International Legal 100.

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