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Who gets the family’s oil and gas lease and the mineral rights in a divorce?


Who gets the family’s oil and gas lease and the mineral rights in a divorce?

| Aug 9, 2021 | family law |

Texas has always been synonymous with oil and gas development, and a lot of mineral rights and their associated leases get passed down from one generation to the next.

What happens to an oil and gas lease or the mineral rights when a couple splits up? The odds are high that your entire family wants to know the answer to that question, especially if the mineral rights have been in the family for a while.

Texas is a community property state, but your mineral rights may be all yours

Surface rights (the land under which the oil or gas deposits are located) and mineral rights (the oil and gas deposits themselves) are both real property — and that means that they’re subject to division using the same rules as any other property in the marriage.

Texas is a community property state, so anything acquired after a marriage begins is generally divided 50/50 between divorcing spouses. Each spouse’s separate property, however, is wholly their own — and that includes mineral rights and land that were owned prior to the marriage. It also includes those received during the marriage by one spouse through a gift or inheritance. If you inherited the mineral rights from your folks, you probably get to keep them.

Similarly, the oil and gas lease (and any future income it may provide) may also be considered one spouse’s personal property for the same reason — so that spouse stands a good chance of keeping it for themselves after the split.

What if you’re not sure if the assets have been commingled?

Commingling means that the line between “yours” and “theirs” has been blurred — and ownership of whatever asset is in question now belongs to both of you. That’s always a possibility when it comes to any kind of property or asset, especially in a long marriage.

When you’re dealing with a potentially complicated divorce process, it pays to learn everything you can about your specific situation. Preparation is key to successful divorce negotiations.