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Question to Dallas Divorce Lawyer: My spouse got in a car wreck, can they take my separate property?

Recently I had a potential Dallas divorce client present the following scenario to me. Wife was involved in an at-fault car accident. Wife is sued by the other driver. Husband is concerned that the person his wife was in an accident with will go after "all" the property they own, even husband’s prized baseball card collection he had before marriage. The question then became, can they take my separate property for my wife’s negligence?

There are two steps for determining what marital property can be seized and sold to satisfy a liability created during marriage. First, determine whether the property in question (to be seized) falls within an overall class of marital property that would be liable for or exempt from seizure under the Texas Family Code.

For a debt arising out of a tort (in this case negligence in a car wreck) the at-fault spouse’s separate property can be seized to satisfy the debt. In contrast, the separate property of the not-at-fault spouse (in this case, Husband’s beloved baseball card collection he owned prior to marriage) is not subject to seizure to satisfy the debt arising out of the tort.

So, bottom line, the answer is NO. The separate property of a not-at-fault spouse is not subject to seizure for a liability arising out of a tort committed by the other spouse.