Married couples share their lives and finances. Under Texas law, your income and property becomes marital or community property that you may have to divide if you divorce.
Unfortunately, especially for couples with higher than average income levels or complex assets, an upcoming divorce can be a powerful temptation to engage in misconduct. One spouse might try to hide property from the other or why to the courts about what assets they own so that they don’t have to share with their spouse.
If you don’t figure out what your ex has done before agreeing to a settlement or going to court, that could hurt you as you are trying to set yourself up for an independent future.
The courts can’t divide what they can’t locate
Whether your spouse has siphoned thousands of dollars off of your joint checking account by making strategic withdrawals every few weeks or slowly started moving valuable shared property into storage spaces in the hopes you won’t remember and claim those assets, there are many ways one divorcing spouse might try to hide property from the other and the courts.
Such efforts are often complex and may require the support of a forensic accountant to uncover. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense to bring in an outside financial professional to review household financial records and tax documents, their expertise could help you successfully locate undisclosed assets and obtain of more appropriate and fair property division ruling in your divorce.
If you don’t find the hidden assets, then whatever your ex has hidden from you will remain their property. They will have effectively deprived you of half of that asset’s value.
What if you discover the misconduct later?
Hidden property is one of the few scenarios in which the Texas family courts may revisit a prior property division order. In some cases, they may penalize the spouse hiding assets by granting the entire hidden asset to the other spouse. At a minimum, they should divide those hidden assets in accordance with state law.
Realizing that intentionally hidden property can drastically impact your divorce proceedings can help you take the necessary financial steps now to protect yourself during the divorce and in the years following.