A challenging and sometimes contentious part of many divorces is the division of marital assets.
As many divorce lawyers can attest, part of the challenge is actually finding those assets and then once they are discovered, valuing them.
Texas is a community property state, so locating all marital assets to be appropriately divided is essential.
In cases where assets have been hidden by a spouse or require more than just advice from divorce attorneys on their value and how they should be divided, the process can get very complicated and lengthy.
Finding Hidden Asset Can Be A Challenge
While it is normal to think that spouses would never hide assets from each other in a divorce, sadly many divorce lawyers find this not to be the case.
Unfortunately, there are some spouses who attempt to do just that, especially if they control the family finances and the other spouse is less aware of the number of assets the couple actually holds.
Divorce attorneys must therefore go into the discovery phase of any divorce with the right skills to root out any hidden assets and then know how to properly value those assets once they are discovered.
Considering some of the ways that spouses can hide assets when they know a divorce may be in their future, divorce attorneys frequently turn to forensic accountants for help.
These specialists understand how numbers can be manipulated to bury assets in ways that benefit one spouse over the other including tax prepayment, misrepresentation and non-disclosure of assets, diversion of funds, and other financial tricks.
They can also find hidden sources of income that could affect the overall division of property.
Valuing Assets Often Requires Professional Help
The second big challenge of correctly dividing marital assets in a divorce is having them properly valued.
While certain assets are fairly easy for any divorce lawyer and spouse to correctly value, others such as homes and real estate, antiques, retirement accounts, and business interests should be assessed by professionals.
This is especially important when assigning value to investment portfolios and business interests, in which determining actual market or real value can be complex.
For the divorce to be finalized, any and all property subject to division based on community property laws should be professionally evaluated to ensure both spouses are awarded according to their established entitlements.
Hiding Or Misrepresenting Assets Can Lead To Penalties
For those spouses actually considering attempting to hide assets while ending their marriage, divorce attorneys offer this warning.
This financial manipulation can be considered fraud or perjury, which could result in jail time.
At the very least, a spouse suspecting that assets have been hidden from them even after the divorce has been finalized retains the right to file an undivided asset case for the family court to rule on.
These cases frequently award the full asset to the spouse who was defrauded in addition to other penalties that the defrauding spouse may incur.
Skilled Divorce Lawyers Can Help Find Financial Assets
A fair division of community marital assets during a divorce is the law in Texas.
The best way to achieve that is by working with a skilled divorce lawyer who has the expertise in not just dividing assets, but also knowing when it is time to bring in other professionals for help in asset location and valuation.
Together with these other specialists, divorce attorneys help ensure that every divorce is a fair one, with spouses receiving whatever wealth they are entitled to as determined by the court.
Anyone dealing with a complicated financial situation or who feels their spouse is hiding assets from them should talk to a divorce lawyer right away.
Schreier & Housewirth Family Law
1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110
Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.