One of the first steps in getting a divorce is identifying all assets belonging to each spouse and the marriage. Sometimes, before this step can happen, a spouse will take steps to hide assets so that they can keep them after the divorce is final. Spouses who suspect their soon-to-be ex is taking these measures should speak with an attorney.
The division of assets and debts is a critical issue in divorce. In some divorces, couples can negotiate agreements to divide their property. In others, they need the court’s help to do so and, as such, file a contested divorce.
Unfortunately, sometimes in either of these circumstances, one spouse attempts to hide assets. By hiding assets, they can’t logistically be subject to Texas property division laws or the court’s ruling. Hiding assets is particularly common in high-asset divorces. Suppose you think your spouse might be trying to do so. In that case, you need the representation of an experienced and aggressive Texas divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
Ways Spouses Hide Assets
There are many ways that spouses can hide assets, depending on the types of assets the couple owns and how aware the other spouse is. Here are some of the most common:
- Opening or maintaining a separate account and transferring money from a shared bank account to an account with only their name.
- Transferring assets to friends or family – one spouse may conspire with close friends and family by moving money and assets to them. When the divorce is legally final, they will transfer the money and assets back to the spouse it came from.
- Buying expensive items such as artwork, antiques, and collectibles, underreporting their actual value, and reselling it after the divorce to recoup the money.
- Storing money in a safe deposit box – A spouse may use a safety deposit box, hiding it within the family home or somewhere else, such as their office.
- Opening a custodial bank account – A spouse could open a custodial account with one of their children’s names and transfer funds into that account.
- Overpaying taxes – This step can benefit an asset-hiding spouse in two ways. It can result in a refund they will receive after the divorce is final or credited towards the taxes they owe the following year. It’s also less money that is available for property division.
When you hire a Texas divorce attorney, you have someone who can help you take the appropriate steps if you find or suspect that your spouse is attempting to hide assets.
Consequences for Hiding Assets in a Texas Divorce
Some spouses attempt to hide assets in a divorce. If they can successfully hide them from you and your Texas divorce attorney, they won’t risk losing them in the divorce. However, if caught, the judge will likely consider their actions when determining property division, and they could face legal ramifications.
Texas state law is clearly on the side of the spouse being victimized by any attempt at asset hiding during a divorce. In fact, the law says that hiding assets is a “fraud on the community.” In the short term, a family law judge can decide to award all the hidden assets to the victimized spouse. The tricky actions of one spouse will also not look good when it comes time for a judge to make other discretionary decisions on issues like child support and custody.
Additionally, the adverse effects of asset hiding might not end after the divorce settlement is over. Each spouse declares their financial assets under oath. As such, making deliberately false statements are considered perjury under the law. A District Attorney could file criminal charges for such actions. These false statements are also considered contempt of court, which has even more negative ramifications.
In short, hiding assets in a divorce is simply not worth it.
Do You Suspect Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets? Contact a Skilled Texas Divorce Lawyer Today
At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC, we are well-versed in how spouses hide assets and how to combat this illegal and unethical behavior. All you must do is reach out for help. Schedule your legal consultation today by contacting us online or calling (210) 222-9132.