Finding Hidden Income and Assets
Texas law considers that all assets acquired during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. Not everyone agrees that this kind of division of property is fair when a marriage comes to an end, which is why some unscrupulous spouses may attempt to hide their assets and income to gain a financial advantage over their spouse during the divorce process.
Fortunately, there are many ways to find hidden assets and income, though it is not always easy. If you suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets from you, you might want to reach out to an attorney for legal assistance.
Robin Scott can explain everything you need to know about tracking down hidden assets and finances to make sure they are properly accounted for in your divorce. The family law attorney at Robin Scott Law Firm, PLLC, has the resources and expertise you need to conduct a thorough investigation and guide you through the discovery process. Robin Scott is based in Spring, Texas, but serves clients throughout Fort Bend, Harris, and Montgomery counties.
Division of Assets in Texas
Texas is one of just nine states in the U.S. that still follow community property laws. Under the community property law in Texas, everything spouses acquire during the marriage is considered to belong equally to them. Thus, any income earned and any real estate purchased during the marriage may be subject to equal division between the spouses when one of them files for divorce.
However, there is a caveat to the community property law. Texas courts have held that the division of community assets must be “just and right,” which is unlikely to be a 50/50 split in the vast majority of cases. Courts consider a wide range of factors in determining whether community property should be divided equally or disproportionately. Some of the factors include the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the size of each spouse’s separate estate, custodial provisions for children, and many more.
Commonly Hidden Assets or Income
Even though Texas courts must divide community estates in a just and right manner, many people do not think the mechanisms the courts follow when dividing assets are fair, which is why many end up hiding their assets or income in an attempt to deprive their spouse of their rightful share of community property. Commonly hidden assets in divorces include:
unreported tax returns
cash traceable through deposits/withdrawals from bank accounts
undervalued artwork and collectibles
repayment of fake debt to a friend
delayed income or bonuses from employment
gifts purchased for a new romantic partner or parents, siblings, friends, or other individuals
Finding hidden income and assets can be a challenge, especially if you were never aware that the assets existed in the first place, and you cannot gain access to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s financial accounts while your divorce is pending. That is why you may need an experienced family law attorney to help you locate the hidden assets, value them, and fight for them to be included in the property division process.
How to Uncover the Truth
Under Texas law, it is illegal for spouses to conceal their assets and income before or during a divorce. However, proving that certain assets were hidden can be difficult and usually requires professional assistance. To unveil the truth, it’s often necessary to gain access to and investigate the spouse’s:
statements for all their financial accounts
personal and business transactions
personal and business loans obtained in the past six to 12 months
Many spouses encounter problems when trying to locate concealed assets, especially when trying to access the spouse’s financial records or accounts without their permission. That is where the discovery process can be used as an invaluable legal tool to uncover hidden income and assets without exposing oneself to civil or even criminal liability. When trying to find hidden assets and income, the discovery process may consist of the following steps:
Requesting financial documentation. When you suspect your spouse is withholding assets, one of the most effective ways to prove concealed finances or assets is to obtain financial documentation, including but not limited to bank statements and tax returns. Your attorney will help you make the necessary requests during the discovery process to ensure that you have all the documentation necessary to prove the spouse’s deceptive behavior.
Demanding an inspection. Sometimes, requesting financial documents may not be enough to uncover the truth. In that case, it may be necessary to demand an inspection of the property and possessions owned by your spouse.
Requesting testimony under oath. Another effective strategy to reveal hidden assets during the discovery process is to call upon your spouse to give testimony under oath, which means all questions asked must be answered honestly. If the spouse knowingly makes false statements while under oath, he or she can be charged with perjury.
Requesting interrogatories. Interrogatories, which come in the form of written questions, can be submitted to the other spouse to make them reveal the truth about concealed income and assets.
A skilled attorney can guide you through every step of the discovery process when trying to find hidden finances and assets during the divorce.
For Experienced Support, Contact Robin Scott
If you think your spouse is trying to hide their income or assets to prevent you from getting a fair share of community property, contact Robin Scott. The experienced and detail-oriented attorney can help you uncover and retrieve assets in this type of situation and do everything possible to make sure that your spouse does not get away with it. Reach out to Robin Scott Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a free phone consultation.