Divorce is an emotional process. If one party worked while the other took care of children, or if there was a significant difference between two spouses’ earnings, the state’s rules for division of assets can feel unfair. However, it is vital that you and your soon to be former spouse enter into proceedings in an honest and straightforward matter. Financial misconduct, including hiding marital assets, can backfire and bring significant negative consequences.
In Texas, assets accrued during a marriage are considered community property and are to be divided equitably upon the dissolution of a marriage. An attempt to hide marital assets would be an example of an attempt to circumvent Texas law. The state of Texas also recognizes a fiduciary duty between spouses. Each spouse has a duty to one another and to the management of their community property. If one spouse mismanages that property in such a way that it rises to the level of fraud, it is considered financial misconduct.
While Texas law calls for dividing assets equitably, it does not always mean those assets are to be divided equally. A person who attempts to hide assets, for instance, may find those assets awarded to their former spouse by a judge. In cases of fraud, the divorce court may opt to award the injured spouse a greater share of the marital estate as reparation for the damage caused. This may be done in order to achieve just as right division of assets.
In some cases, financial misconduct is easy to prove. Many individuals think that they can engage in subterfuge such as selling an asset cheaply to a friend to remove it from the marriage’s community property. Some will go as far as quitting a job in an attempt to reduce child support or alimony payments. However, judges in divorce court have seen a wide range of attempts to remove assets from the community pool or to interfere with proper support orders. They are not easily fooled by these attempts and have latitude to make just and right decisions.
In many marriages, one spouse may handle all financial matters. While this works for many couples, it also can make it harder for an individual to ascertain what assets there are and where they are during a divorce. Financial experts including forensic accountants, however, can help uncover a paper trail and prove the existence of assets, as well as any financial misconduct with those assets that can affect how property is divided.
The counsel of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney is invaluable. Do not trust the division of marital assets to chance. At McLaughlin Law Office, we have the expertise and tenacity you need to get the fairest and equitable outcome possible. Request an appointment today for a consultation.