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Can your ex keep the ranch when you divorce in Texas?

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Can your ex keep the ranch when you divorce in Texas?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | family law |

Ranches often contain hundreds of acres of open land to allow for cattle grazing. Multiple generations of a family may depend on the revenue generated by a ranch or hope to access the land in the future.

If you married into a ranching family and now want a divorce, you may worry about how fair the outcome of your divorce will be. Can your ex just keep the ranch, leaving you with very little from the marital estate? 

How you own the ranch will matter

Determining whether or not you have a claim to the ranch in the divorce requires that you look at the history of the property. Did your ex already own it before you got married? If so, that could reduce the strength of your claim to shared ownership.

If their family has owned the land for generations and holds the property in a trust, you would have a difficult time making a claim to the property in a divorce. Of course, you may have performed uncompensated labor to help maintain the ranch land or invested your income in expenses like taxes and insurance, which could help you build a case when your ex tries to claim the ranch is separate property or part of a trust.

However, if you are on the mortgage or the title for the property or you acquired it during the marriage, then the courts will likely view the ranch land as community property. Although they may not allow you to keep the land itself, you may have the right to request a share of its value from the courts in the property division proceedings.

Agricultural employment complicates divorce

Trying to run a successful ranch can be a full-time job, but it may also require that one or both spouses work outside of the ranch to cover their cost of living adjustment, especially with new ranching operations. The revenue can be hard to predict, and your family’s income, on paper, may seem quite low.

You may need to gather evidence about the standard of living that the ranch affords the family or documentation of how you have helped support the ranch or your spouse throughout the marriage. Learning more about the community property laws in Texas and how they apply to complex assets can help those with valuable property prepare for a divorce.