Getting a fair division of property in a Texas divorce can be complex, but it is further complicated when claims for reimbursement and economic contributions come into play.
However, effective September 1, 2023, legislative changes to Chapter 3, Subchapter E of the Texas Family Code have provided some clarity in this area. The amendments focus on what constitutes a reimbursement claim and offset, as well as what elements must be proved to recover such claims or offsets. Here's what you need to know:
What Constitutes a Reimbursement Claim?
According to the new law, a claim for reimbursement exists when one or both spouses use the property of one marital estate to benefit another estate in a way that would result in unjust enrichment if not repaid. This could be as straightforward as using community funds to pay off a debt that should be the responsibility of one spouse's separate property.
Proving a Reimbursement Claim
To establish a valid reimbursement claim, the spouse seeking reimbursement must prove:
Benefits Conferred on Another Marital Estate
The new amendments define "benefit conferred" in several ways:
Determining the Value of Benefits
The value of the benefit is determined as of the date the trial begins. It can be calculated based on:
Unjust Enrichment: A Court's Decision
The court will decide whether unjust enrichment has occurred, taking into consideration all aspects of the case.
Resolving Reimbursement Claims
The court uses equitable principles to resolve these claims, including the possibility of offsetting one claim against another.
An offset claim can be proven by the spouse not seeking reimbursement, who bears the burden of proof. Offsets can include:
The changes to Chapter 3, Subchapter E of the Texas Family Code seek to clarify the complexities surrounding reimbursement claims and economic contributions in the context of divorce. As always, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial for navigating the intricate details of this legal landscape.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 20 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 25 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.
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