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TX divorce lawyerA high asset divorce does not necessarily involve contested litigation. In many cases, the divorcing spouses are eager to resolve their outstanding issues and end their marriage as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, Texas law does allow for mediated settlement agreements (MSA).

An MSA is a legally binding contract signed by both parties. A mediator serves as a neutral facilitator who assists the parties, and their attorneys, in reaching an agreement. But unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not have the legal authority to force a decision. The spouses are still free to abandon mediation at any time and take their case to litigation.

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Law Governing Mediated Settlement Agreements

The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed an important legal question regarding MSAs: Are such agreements enforceable if they are signed before either spouse actually files for divorce?

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TX divorce lawyerEnding a marriage requires couples to grapple with a host of difficult issues. For instance, divorcing couples must make the transition from married life to single life and come to terms with the emotional implications of ending a marriage. However, these are not the only considerations that come into play during divorce. This is especially true for couples who have unique, diverse, or significant assets, as these individuals are forced to not only physically separate but to financially separate as well. This can be a difficult process for spouses who have accumulated substantial wealth during their union, making it particularly important for those who find themselves in this type of circumstance, to retain an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can help protect their financial interests.

Obtaining Assistance from Finance Experts

Coming up with a fair property settlement during the divorce process requires a thorough understanding of marital money management, as ignorance about the existence of or value of certain assets and liabilities is a serious disadvantage. In many cases, spouses who don’t feel confident in their knowledge of their financial situations are encouraged to hire one or more financial professionals who can delve into their family’s economic complexities. Forensic accountants, in particular, can play a critical role in uncovering hidden income, as well as:

  • Determining whose accounts are being used to pay for which expenses;
  • Determining what types of insurance policies a couple had, who is listed as a beneficiary, and the source of payments; and
  • Creating a thorough list of each party’s debts and assets.

Valuation experts can also help ensure that all of a couple’s assets are labeled with their fair market value, while tax advisors can help divorcing individuals avoid unnecessary tax burdens. Finally, certified accountants can help trace the origin of a piece of property, which is crucial to the process of determining whether an asset qualifies as community or separate property.

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TX divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, spouses are required to disclose detailed information about their income, assets, and debts. This ensures that both parties are able to make informed decisions during the property division process and that any settlement or court order incorporates accurate information about all known financial factors. While many divorcing spouses are careful to provide accurate and detailed financial records to each other, it is also not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to lie about assets or debts in an effort to retain the entire interest in an asset or to force a spouse to pay more than his or her fair share of a debt. This type of conduct is strictly prohibited under state law, so if you believe that your spouse is attempting to hide assets or liabilities, it is important to contact an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.

Improper Disclosures

Disclosing all of one’s assets, interests, and liabilities is a complicated process, so there are actually a number of ways that a spouse can avoid telling the truth about his or her financial situation. In many cases, this involves failing to list certain assets on necessary disclosure forms or assigning improper values to property or debts. Alternatively, a party could fail to come clean about when and how he or she acquired an asset or could hide documentation that would reveal the truth about property values or ownership. In other cases, one spouse misrepresents how much the other contributes to the household, lies about how joint funds are used, or even unfairly accuses the other of stealing funds. In either case, this kind of behavior is unlawful in Texas, so spouses that are discovered violating disclosure rules could be held in contempt of court, or lose their interest in certain property.

Document Review

One of the best ways to find out whether a spouse is hiding or lying about his or her assets or debts is to compare the information that he or she provides with financial records, such as:

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TX divorce lawyerWhile there are a number of benefits to going into business with other partners, there are also a few drawbacks. For instance, if one partner’s marriage ends, the interests of any other business partners could also be at risk. This is because Texas law requires all divorcing couples to divide their marital property, which includes business assets, equitably. When this happens, the business partner’s ex-spouse could become a shareholder in the business as well, which means that he or she could have a say in how the company operates. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this type of division, so if you have ownership in a business and are dissolving your marriage, or one of your business partners has filed for divorce, please contact our high asset divorce legal team to learn more about your options.

How to Protect Your Business Interests During Divorce

A business partner’s divorce can have important implications for the ownership interests of other partners and shareholders, so it is important for those who own an interest in a business to take certain steps to prevent disruption. For instance, including a contingency for divorce in a business’ ownership, partnership, or shareholder agreement is one of the best ways to protect a business in the event of divorce. These provisions can require a partner’s ex-spouse to sell a business interest that he or she was awarded in any property division settlements following divorce, back to the company itself. It’s important to note that when drafting this type of provision, the parties should ensure that it contains specific terms and conditions for valuing and purchasing the shares. Failing to take these precautions can have serious repercussions down the road, leading to complicated and expensive litigation, which can put a company at risk.

It’s also a good idea to have the spouses of all partners agree to the divorce contingency in writing before any marital discord actually arises, which can help bolster the enforceability of the contract in the event of divorce. Finally, many business partners are strongly encouraged to enter into a prenuptial agreement before getting married, in which, they can specify that business interests remain separate property, even in the event of divorce. Separate property, unlike marital property, remains in the sole possession of the original owner, unless it becomes commingled with marital assets to a significant degree.

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TX divorce lawyerCouples who live in Texas and have unique or diverse assets and are considering divorce may want to consider filing by the end of 2018, as new federal tax laws that affect alimony payments are set to go into effect next year. To learn more about filing for divorce and the effect that the new tax law could have on your own case, please contact one of our dedicated Cedar Park high asset divorce attorneys for assistance.

Current Law

Under current federal law, those who pay alimony to ex-spouses can deduct those payments when calculating their taxable income. Similarly, alimony recipients must include spousal maintenance payments when calculating their income. This has proven to be extremely helpful to taxpayers who are being taxed at a high rate based on their income. In fact, the IRS estimates that as many as 600,000 people take advantage of this deduction. However, next year, this option will no longer be available.

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