Fraudulent Transfers of Assets to Third Parties
Divorce entails the legal dissolution of a relationship and usually involves the division of all marital property and assets. Texas law is clear regarding what property is considered the property of both people in a marriage and how it should be distributed. Not all parties agree with the statute, though, and some may engage in fraudulent transfers of assets to third parties to deprive their spouses of property they rightfully own. If you intend to seek a divorce and believe your spouse is unlawfully disposing of marital assets, it is vital to speak to a lawyer regarding your options for protecting your rights. At McClure Law Group, our assertive Dallas divorce attorneys are committed to helping people seek positive results. If we represent you, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf.Marital Property in Texas
In Texas, spouses have the right to control their separate property, which is any asset owned prior to the marriage or that is deemed separate via a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. It also includes property obtained via a gift, descent, or devise, and damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit, unless they represent compensation for lost wages. Community property, however, is the property of both spouses. Any property that either spouse acquires during a marriage that is not separate property is a community asset. Community property is generally subject to the joint management, disposition, and control of both spouses.Fraudulent Transfers of Assets to Third Parties
A court can divide community property in a manner that it seems just and proper, in consideration of each spouse's rights. As such, all community property is subject to division. Numerous factors can impact how property is divided, including whether either party engaged in inappropriate behavior, such as fraud or hiding assets. The courts define fraud in the marital context as a wrongful act by one spouse that may be considered in determining how to divide assets. For example, if one spouse engages in a transfer of assets to a third party in an attempt to diminish the community estate and deprive the other spouse of the property, it may constitute actual fraud.
Even people that do not intend to be deceitful may engage in fraud if they take actions that are inherently unfair to their spouses. Spouses owe each other a fiduciary duty, which means in part that any disposition of community property has to be fair. As such, if a person transfers community property to a third party without the other spouse’s knowledge or permission, the courts presume it is constructive fraud. The courts will consider multiple factors in weighing whether a party engaged in constructive fraud, such as the spouse’s relationship with the third party, the percentage of the estate the transferred asset represents, and whether any circumstances justify the transfer.
If a court determines a party engaged in fraudulent transfers of assets to third parties, it must calculate the value of the depletion to the community estate and the amount of the reconstituted estate, which is its total worth if the fraud had not occurred. The court must then divide the value of the reconstituted estate fairly and properly. To do so, the court may grant any equitable or legal relief necessary. This includes awarding the aggrieved spouse an appropriate share of the community property that remained after the fraud, a monetary award, or both a monetary award and a fair share of the community estate.Meet with an Attorney in Dallas
Divorce can conjure up many strong emotions, but the end of a marriage is not grounds for people trying to engage in fraud to deprive their spouses of community assets. If you wish to end your marriage and you believe your spouse is engaging in deceitful behavior, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. The lawyers at McClure Law Group possess the knowledge and resources needed to help you strive for the best outcome available in your case. We have an office in Dallas, and we are also available for consultations at our Collin County office in Plano. We regularly represent people in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Richardson, Garland, McKinney, Irving, and Frisco. We also represent people in family law and divorce matters, such as child custody, in cities throughout Dallas, Rockwall, Denton, Grayson, Collin, and Tarrant Counties. You can reach us at 214.692.8200 or through our online form to schedule a meeting.