Dividing assets in a divorce, especially in high net worth cases, can prove contentious under the most amicable circumstances. This becomes exponentially magnified when one party has reasons to suspect the other is attempting to hide assets. Austin divorce lawyers can provide guidance in the steps to take to protect one’s interests.
All marital property is categorized as either separate property or community property. Although Texas is a community property state, the division of community property is seldom as simple as one half to each party. Austin divorce lawyers can explain that the standard the court uses is to enter a “just and fair” property division. Naturally, this requires a complete and accurate evaluation of all assets. It is immoral, unethical and illegal to attempt to or to actually hide assets during a divorce.
The complexities of many people’s finances make asset evaluation difficult. Determining what the value of a retirement or pension plan, or stock options or deferred compensation, for example, requires a certain level of financial sophistication. However, a forensic accountant can arrive at a value. But when a party actively seeks to hide assets, a different type of analysis is required.
Even in complicated financial situations with multiple and diverse income streams, a bottom line number can be calculated that reflects how much income is coming in. Similarly, total family expenses can be determined, and, where there is a significant discrepancy between the two, an investigation should be considered.
Typically, when one of the parties owns a business, there is a greater opportunity to conceal assets, but the following may occur in any situation:
• Deferring a salary by delaying to sign a new contract can be a legitimate option, but there can be a problems if it is done with the intent to disclose as a marital asset.
• Purchasing items that can be easily overlooked or undervalued such as using an office as a place to keep expensive furnishings is an example. If a party has collectibles such as coins or stamps, it is easy for recent additions to go unnoticed.
• Under-reporting income by omitting them from financial statements or tax returns can be difficult to trace.
• Over-reporting income to the IRS by paying excess taxes with the intent of receiving a larger refunded later.
• Establishing phony debt in collusion with a third party to set up what appear to be legitimate loans but are not.
Reaching a property settlement in your divorce case can be a complicated endeavor. However, by taking certain steps and reviewing this information, your family lawyer can help you increase your chances of winding up with a settlement that you are satisfied with. Discuss these four steps with your Austin Divorce Lawyer to help you reach an agreement with your spouse.
It is important to retain an experienced divorce team that has the resources, knowledge and experience to ensure you receive all that you are legally entitled to in your divorce. Call the Austin Divorce Lawyers at Nunis & Associates at (512) 236-9696.