The law has a love-hate relationship with “love.” Roses, wine, and chocolate-covered strawberries have no place in the courtroom.
Love can cause problems when it translates to actual behavior. Couples in love often seem incapable of making rational decisions.
Take marriage, for example. The law considers marriage a legally-sanctioned partnership with rules made up by the state. There is no mention of love in the law. Most couples enter into a marriage without any idea of the real-world implications.
Texas has some very definite implications for a married couple. From the date of the marriage, the earnings of both spouses are lumped together into community property. Each spouse has an undivided ½ interest in every penny of income. It does not matter which spouse earned the money or where the money, once earned, was deposited. It is all community property.
Every asset purchased by a spouse is presumed to be community property. Each spouse is presumed to own an undivided ½ interest in every cushion of the new couch in the family room.
Every debt incurred by a spouse is presumed to be a community debt. Each spouse is presumed to owe ½ of the other spouse’s credit card debt.
A spouse cannot title their way out of community property. It does not matter if a vehicle purchased after marriage is titled in only one spouse’s name, or if only one spouse’s name is shown as owner of a bank account. It is all community property.
There is a way to keep assets, debts and earnings separate. The couple can execute a written marital agreement. The agreement can be signed before or after the actual wedding ceremony.
Love keeps a lot of couples from discussing the business side of marriage. It should not. Love has nothing to do with it.
Attorney Virginia Hammerle has practiced litigation and estate planning for 40 years. She is founder and managing attorney for Hammerle Finley Law Firm (hammerle.com). This article does not constitute as legal advice.