Be clear on mineral rights in a Texas divorce

They say that everything is bigger and better in Texas. If you happen to own substantial mineral rights assets, you might agree with that assessment. It’s understandable that you would want to protect your interests if you’re headed for divorce. “Bigger, better” assets might mean that property division proceedings will be complex and stressful, especially if you’re not sure what state laws are regarding this topic.

There are many types of mineral rights, including surface rights, subsurface rights, oil and gas rights, and royalty rights. You might own one or more rights on a particular property or various rights on multiple properties. Either way, if you’re planning to divorce, you’ll want to make sure you achieve a fair settlement and walk away with the maximum value of assets to which you may be entitled.

Were your mineral rights part of an inheritance?

Texas property division proceedings operate under community property guidelines. The court considers any assets that you and your spouse acquired during marriage to be marital property. Marital property in this state is typically split 50/50 between spouses in a divorce.

However, there are numerous issues that would enable you to retain specific assets under separate ownerships, thereby not subject to property division in divorce. One such issue is inheritance. If you received mineral rights during marriage as an inheritance that was designated specifically for you and you alone, the court will likely allow you to retain full ownership of those assets when you divorce.

Did you sign a prenuptial agreement before you got married?

If you and your spouse signed a prenup, you may have incorporated terms of agreement regarding mineral rights that you already owned before your wedding day. Even if you have amassed greater wealth from those rights during marriage, if you listed them as separately owned property in a prenuptial contract, the court can enforce the agreement in a divorce.

There is also such a thing as a post nuptial contract, which comes in handy for people who have married but later regretted not signing a prenup or simply did not have a need to at the time, then later determined it necessary. An example of this might be if you were to acquire mineral rights after your wedding day but wished to keep the assets separate from your marital property.

Making sure you achieve a fair settlement

Even if you have a high-net worth, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a nasty court battle to settle your divorce. In fact, if you and your spouse are willing to negotiate terms of agreement in a calm and amicable fashion, you may be able to settle your divorce without ever having to step foot inside a courtroom.

A key to successful property division negotiations is to learn as much as you can about state guidelines, in particular as they relate to mineral rights, before sitting down to propose a settlement plan. It’s also a good idea to know where to seek support if a legal problem arises and you determine litigation necessary.