To protect your finances during divorce, watch out for asset concealment

During divorce in Texas, the law provides that a couple's property should be divided between the spouses in a specific way. However, more often than many people realize, one spouse in a divorce may try to get more than his or her fair share by hiding money, property or other assets. To guard against the risk of asset concealment during divorce in Texas, it is important for spouses to understand their legal rights and take steps to protect their interests if they suspect that a soon-to-be-ex is hiding money or property.

Red flags that may mean a spouse is hiding assets

There are many different ways that spouses try to hide money and property from one another during divorce in Texas. Some hide cash in a lockbox or other location, while others open secret bank accounts, downplay their income or exaggerate their expenses. Some even engage in complicated schemes like creating false debts or purchasing big-ticket items like art or antiques, the value of which may be easily overlooked during the asset inventory process.

One of the best ways to protect your financial interests during divorce is to be aware of the risk of asset concealment and watch for some common warning signs. Examples of behaviors that may indicate a spouse is hiding assets include:

  • Opening multiple bank accounts for vague reasons.
  • Complaining about unusual financial hardships.
  • Being secretive about financial information or account passwords.
  • Making purchases that seem out of proportion to his or her stated income.
  • Seeming overly resistant to involving lawyers in the divorce.

How property is divided during divorce in Texas

When a married couple files for divorce in Texas, one of the first steps in the property division process usually involves taking a detailed inventory of all of the couple's assets. This includes their money, retirement accounts, real estate holdings, business assets, vehicles, stocks and other things of value. Also included in this inventory are all debts owed by the spouses, including credit card balances, student debt, home loans, medical bills and other liabilities.

After creating an inventory, the next step in the Texas property division process is to categorize each asset as either community property or separate property. Although certain exceptions apply, community property generally refers to any income, property or other assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, typically refers to the assets that either spouse owned before marriage, as well as any property received by one spouse alone through gift or inheritance during the marriage.

The distinction between community property and separate property is an important one because it determines which set of rules will be applied to decide who gets what during the property division process. Typically, separate property is retained by the spouse who owned it originally, while community property is divided between the spouses according to a number of factors. Thus, by failing to fully disclose the extent of his or her assets, a spouse who conceals assets may significantly affect the outcome of the property settlement and deprive the other spouse of his or her fair share.

Call a lawyer if you think your spouse is hiding assets

In the event that you suspect your spouse may be trying to hide money, property or other valuables from you, be sure to get help from an attorney. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to uncover hidden assets and make sure you get your fair share during the divorce and property settlement.

The law firm of Joseph Indelicato, Jr., P.C., represents people in Houston and the surrounding parts of Texas, including Sugar Land, Missouri City, Richmond/Rosenberg, Katy, Bellaire, Pearland, Alvin, Pasadena, Baytown, La Porte, Galveston, Texas City, League City, Clear Lake, Friendswood, Webster, as well as all cities within Harris County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County and Galveston County.