In Texas, all property obtained during a marriage is considered community property, meaning that unless proven otherwise, it belongs to both spouses. This is true regardless of who acquired the property. Often, especially in cases involving high net worth individuals or cases with a disparity in earnings between the spouses, one spouse will attempt to hide or divert assets in an effort to avoid having to divide them. At times, one spouse may be unaware of the extent of property or assets accumulated throughout the marriage, making it easier for the other spouse to divert the property. It is essential that you engage an experienced Dallas divorce lawyer to thoroughly investigate all possible channels through which your estranged spouse may have hidden assets so that you obtain your fair share of the marital assets. At the McClure Law Group, we work diligently to ensure that our clients receive an equitable share of their marital property.Signs of Hidden Assets
There are several signs that may indicate that your spouse is attempting to hide assets. For example, your spouse may hire one or more financial advisers prior to or shortly after filing for divorce. While under ordinary circumstances, hiring a financial planner is innocuous behavior, it is advisable to investigate which services any financial planners provided and which transactions they undertook on behalf of your spouse to determine whether any marital property was transferred. Similarly, if your spouse owns his or her own business, you may want to request documentation of all business assets, payroll records, bank account records, and tax records, which can help you analyze whether the business is being used to disburse assets. A sudden increase in business expenditures may indicate an inappropriate attempt to disguise income as expenses. Your spouse may also attempt to sell or transfer property to relatives or friends, with the intent to regain the property once the divorce is finalized. Finally, your spouse may transfer assets into international accounts, since they are harder to trace and may be more difficult to access via the discovery process.Uncovering Hidden Assets
If you are considering filing for divorce or are in the process of getting divorced and suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it is important to obtain as much documentation as possible. Discovery is an important process, which will allow your attorney to gain information about any assets accumulated during the marriage and assess whether your spouse is attempting to hide any property. Discovery includes interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions, which should enable your attorney to obtain information regarding all bank accounts in your spouse's name, business records like tax returns, and retirement accounts. Also, they can inquire into the existence of any overseas accounts. If your case is complex, your attorney may hire a forensic accountant to further investigate whether your spouse is hiding assets and to determine the validity of any transfers or transactions. It is important that your attorney acts diligently in ensuring that discovery requests are answered fully and making certain that no assets are left undisclosed.
Another important tool in determining whether all assets have been taken into account is the inventory and appraisal of all marital assets and debts. In a divorce action in Texas, your spouse will be required to prepare and file an inventory and appraisal and swear under oath as to its accuracy. It is beneficial to compare all financial documentation and records received from your spouse with the inventory and appraisal so that you can double check that all marital property has been divulged.Assets Uncovered After Divorce
If assets that were hidden during a divorce are revealed once the divorce is final, the Texas Family Code provides the unique post-divorce remedy of a suit to divide undivided property. To pursue this type of suit, the assets in question must have existed while the divorce was pending. In evaluating whether to divide assets after a divorce is final, a court will look at whether the spouse intentionally and fraudulently hid assets, or if it was an oversight. If the property was not disclosed via answers to discovery or the inventory and appraisal, it is likely that the property was intentionally hidden. It is also important that the divorce decree included language allowing for the division of undisclosed assets. Your attorney should petition the court to bar any language that automatically awards assets in a party's name to that party, since that would prevent you from pursuing a suit to recover hidden assets that come to light after the divorce is final.Confer with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in the Dallas Area
You are entitled to a fair share of the property and assets acquired during the length of your marriage. If you are concerned that your spouse is attempting to hide assets, you should seek counsel from a knowledgeable Dallas attorney as soon as possible. The McClure Law Group is experienced in dealing with financially complex divorce cases and can diligently work to ensure that the assets you are entitled to retain are uncovered. Contact us at 214.692.8200 or via our online form to set up a consultation. We also handle child custody, child support, and other issues that may arise during a divorce.