How to handle mineral rights in a divorce

In parts of the United States that are rich in natural resources, divorcees often have to determine who is entitled to the mineral rights of their property when they split. The laws concerning asset division apply to mineral rights just as they do to other property that a divorcing couple shares. If you live in Texas and need to know more about mineral rights as it pertains to your divorce, here are some things to keep in mind.

What are mineral rights?

Generally speaking, mineral rights are legal powers that give a person the right to explore and sell forms of mineral wealth that are connected to real estate. Mineral rights are usually attached to the titles of specific sections of the property and can be leased, sold or divided without compromising the state of the property. Before you look into disposing of the mineral rights you share with your spouse during the asset division phase of your divorce, be sure you have control over the natural resources on your property.

Classifying mineral rights

Mineral rights are marital property in most states. You and your spouse own the minerals on your property unless you’ve transferred the rights to someone else or sold them. Since mineral rights are classified as shared or marital property, they are governed by community property rights.

Community property vs. separate property

In community property states, asset division can be a tedious process. If you want total control over the mineral rights on your property, you’ll have to prove that you purchased the property before you were married and paid most of the mortgage. If you received the property as a gift or as compensation, you’ll have to provide documentation for this as well.

In separate property states, it may be easier for the judge to assign full mineral rights to one spouse. However, you’ll still need to prove that you made most of the tax and mortgage payments on the property. A family law attorney may be able to help you secure mineral rights by gathering the necessary documents and arguing your case.