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Uncovering Hidden Income and Assets

Thornton Law, PLLC April 7, 2022

American dollar hidden under puzzle piecesSometimes, one spouse telling the other they want a divorce seems to come out of nowhere. You can guess the spouse asking for one has been planning it for some time.

In other circumstances, both spouses may know the marriage is failing and have even talked about a divorce, but one spouse seems to keep delaying the inevitable. In either case, a deceptive spouse can use such tactics to give them time to hide income and assets that should be divided in divorce. Doing so is illegal, and so is attempting to uncover them in ways that violate Texas law.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets to avoid disclosing them in your divorce, I can help you uncover them the correct way. At Thornton Law, PLLC, I have been helping clients from Plano, Dallas, Denton, and McKinney, Texas, expose income and assets that they are entitled to benefit from in divorce.

How Are Assets Divided in Texas Divorce?

States either divide assets and debt in divorce equally or equitably. As a community property state, in Texas, these are divided equally or essentially, 50/50.

What is subject to division is marital property or “community property.” As the name implies, the property belongs to both spouses during the marriage and the divorce. Community property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, with a few exceptions. Gifts or an inheritance one spouse receives are “separate property,” even when they receive them during the marriage. Assets and debts a spouse had before the marriage are also separate property. Separate property is not subject to division in divorce but rather is retained solely by the spouse who owns it.

As you can imagine, what is community property and what is separate property is not always strictly black and white. Property a spouse owned prior to the marriage may become commingled with marital property later. For example, say you bought a house when you were single, then your spouse moved in after you were married, and you then used marital assets to pay the mortgage, insurance, and costs to maintain or renovate the home. In this case, a portion of the house would be your separate property but some of the value would be community property.

What Kinds of Assets Are Commonly Hidden?

It’s obvious that you both have an interest in the home you lived in during the marriage, but what if your spouse secretly bought a second home or vacation home while you are still married? They could open a bank or investment account you aren’t aware of. They could buy valuable items such as artwork, jewelry, or cars and store them secretly. They could even give cash and other valuables to a friend, family member, or adulterous partner as “gifts” with their agreement to return them to your spouse once the divorce is final.

In some situations, hiding income and assets is not very difficult. In most marriages, one spouse is primarily responsible for taking care of the couple’s finances. That spouse makes deposits and withdrawals from bank and retirement accounts and handles tax returns that the other spouse just signs in good faith without reviewing the content.

One spouse can tell the other their business is failing to hide profits or not disclose getting a raise or an increase in benefits at work. For dishonest people, hiding income and assets really isn’t that hard.

How Can These Assets Be Uncovered?

If you suspect your spouse is hiding income and assets to avoid dividing them in divorce, avoid the temptation to play detective. Rifling through your spouse’s desk at work searching for evidence is illegal. If you violate the law while attempting to uncover the truth, you may pay the price. You need to discuss your suspicions with the divorce attorney who is representing you. Your attorney will know how to discover hidden assets using proper legal channels.

You can look for hidden assets where you have legal access. You can check the information your spouse must disclose during the divorce process against bank accounts, credit card accounts, utility accounts, loans, and other accounts you have a legal right to. You can also request and review full copies of income tax returns filed during the marriage. Review the information your spouse has disclosed against the financial records you have legal access to and look for discrepancies.

There is a discovery process in divorce. You and your attorney are allowed to request that your spouse answer certain questions and provide copies of certain documents, and your spouse is allowed to ask the same of you. You and your attorney can request inspections of certain physical assets, such as artwork or classic cars, and have them appraised by your own expert. Your attorney can also schedule a deposition of your spouse during which your lawyer can ask the spouse questions they must answer under oath.

Everything in the discovery process must be provided under oath. Documents must be signed by your spouse, attesting to the completeness and truthfulness of all information. If you and your attorney later find proof that your spouse violated this oath on anything, your spouse has committed perjury.

Working With an Experienced Family Law Attorney

It can be difficult to uncover income and other assets your spouse attempts to hide, especially if your spouse is the person who took care of financial matters during the marriage. You may not even know where to begin, but I do.

If you suspect your spouse is violating the law by hiding assets, call Thornton Law, PLLC to represent you. I help right this wrong perpetrated against divorcing spouses in and around Plano, Texas.