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TX divorce lawyerWhile most wealthy couples in Texas will have more than one retirement account that will be subject to division in a divorce, it is important to understand how the court is likely to treat your 401(k) accounts, and how those accounts can be divided without incurring substantial penalties. You should learn more about the classification of 401(k) accounts in a community property state like Texas, and whether there are options for preventing the distribution of your 401(k) accounts in your divorce case. When you have questions or need assistance, you should reach out to a Texas high asset divorce lawyer for help. In the meantime, the following includes information about 401(k) classification in Texas and details about distribution.

Community Property and Your 401(k) Account

As you likely know, 401(k) plans are a particular kind of defined-contribution retirement account, and employers offer them to their employees. The term 401(k) refers to the Internal Revenue Code section that governs these plans. With a 401(k) account, employees make automatic contributions from their paychecks, which are then matched by an employer (the percentage of the match depends on the employer). In traditional 401(k) plans, funds are not taxed until they are withdrawn, although withdrawals from Roth 401(k) accounts are not taxed since those are funded with “after-tax” contributions.

For most married couples in Austin, at least a portion of their 401(k) accounts will be classified as “community property.” According to the Texas Family Code, there is a presumption that assets acquired after the date of marriage are community property unless one of the spouses can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the asset is separate property. Then, community property will be divided in a manner that is “just and right” based on the circumstances of the parties. To be clear, any contributions to a 401(k) account during the marriage will most likely be classified as community property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_filing-divorce.jpgWhen you are planning to file for divorce in Austin, TX and you know that you and your spouse have significant earnings, or that you have substantial and valuable assets, you may have heard the phrases “high asset divorce” or “high net worth divorce.” Yet you may be wondering whether these terms do indeed apply to you and, if so, what they mean for your ultimate divorce process. Under Texas law, regardless of whether you have a high asset divorce, your property will be classified either as community property or separate property, and all community property will be divisible. When community property is of high value, often nearing or upwards of $1,000,000, there will be particular considerations you will want to take into account.

For example, in a high asset divorce, you may need to hire a property appraiser with expertise handling niche property, or you may need to seek multiple estimates for real property to ensure that it is appropriately valued and classified. Moreover, you may need to work with a forensic accountant who can uncover hidden property that one of the spouses was attempting to conceal. An experienced Texas high asset divorce lawyer can tell you whether you should anticipate a high net worth and what you should expect. In the meantime, the following are types of community property that may signal a high net worth divorce and the need to seek advice from a high asset divorce lawyer in Austin.

High Earnings

If either you or your spouse has had particular high earnings after the date of marriage, then you should likely be anticipating a high asset divorce that may involve additional complications.

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TX divorce lawyerIf you were the primary earner in your household during your marriage, and if you also have substantial separate property (as a result of earnings prior to the marriage or a family inheritance, for example), it will be important to think about how you can protect your credit and your financial profile after a high asset divorce in Texas. Even if your soon-to-be ex-spouse does not intentionally make bad financial decisions after the divorce, some of those poor financial decisions could impact your credit if you do not take specific steps ahead of time.

As you may know, Texas is a community property state. As such, most property acquired after the marriage will be classified as “community property,” as opposed to “separate property,” and it will be divisible between the parties. You may be thinking that you do not need to worry about your spouse harming your credit or financial profile since your spouse will receive a substantial amount of community property. However, if your spouse does not have much experience handling financial accounts and assets, that money may go quickly. The following are some recommendations for protecting your credit after a high asset divorce in Texas. If you have additional questions, a Texas high asset divorce lawyer can help.

Close Joint Accounts

If you have joint accounts of any type with your spouse, you should close them. Even if closing joint accounts requires significant work, ensuring that your ex-spouse will not have access to any of your accounts can be worth it in the long run. If you do not close joint accounts, even if your spouse knows that he or she no longer owns the assets in a particular account, your ex could still attempt to use the account to his or her benefit.

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TX divorce lawyerWhen you are in the early stages of planning for a high asset divorce in Texas, you should know that you will likely be facing a divorce involving the classification, valuation, and distribution of many different types of complex property. We have told you about some common types of complex property in an Austin high net worth divorce, including valuable collections of art and books, as well as business holdings and investments. Yet these are not the only types of complex property that will need to be divided in most Texas high asset divorce cases. We want to tell you about some more common types of complex property that may need to be evaluated in a high net worth divorce.

Keep in mind that Texas is a community property state, which means most property acquired after the date of marriage will be considered community property and thus will be subject to division. If you have questions or concerns, you should speak with an aggressive Austin high asset divorce attorney today.

Real Estate and Vacation Homes

Valuing real estate, especially vacation homes in different states or different countries, can be complicated. In general, if the property is classified as community property, a Texas court will handle the property like any other property the married couple owns in Austin. However, it is important to point out that real estate in other states, and especially in other countries, should be identified early on in the divorce process since one of the parties may attempt to conceal international property.

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TX divorce lawyerMany couples in Austin, Texas with significant assets own property outside the state of Texas. In some cases, a couple may even have international assets, such as real estate or bank accounts. While these types of property are not as common in divorces involving middle-class couples, high net worth divorces in Texas often do have assets located in other states and other countries. When assets are located outside of Texas, this fact alone does not mean that they will not be subject to division. Rather, any assets, regardless of where they are located, will need to be classified and, if they are community property, divided between the spouses.

We want to provide you with more information about handling out-of-state property in a Texas high net worth divorce. An aggressive Austin high asset divorce attorney can discuss the specific details of your case with you today.

Out-of-State Property Must Be Classified

If you and your spouse both live in Austin or at least you both live in the state of Texas, you may be wondering whether valuable property that is located outside the state — either in another U.S. state or in an international location — will need to be identified when you go through the divorce process. Texas law makes clear that any assets owned by the spouses need to be properly identified and classified. In other words, when you list the property you own so that the court can determine whether it should be classified as community property (and thus subject to division) or separate property (and thus not subject to division), you do need to list out-of-state assets.

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TX high asset lawyerIf you are planning to file for a high asset divorce in Austin, or if you or your spouse recently filed for divorce in Texas, we know that you likely have questions about what the division of community property will look like when your investments, including mutual funds and stocks, are worth much less than they were even a month ago. You may be wondering if it could make sense to put your divorce on hold until the stock market resurges, or you might be thinking that you could end up faring better in the long run if you can ensure that community property from your marriage gets divided before the stock market resurges. Divorces are stressful enough without the added anxiety of a declining stock market and a global pandemic.

We want to discuss some of the issues concerning high net worth divorce when the stock market is in decline. If you have questions or need assistance with your divorce during this complicated time, an experienced Texas complex litigation attorney at our firm.

Benefiting and Suffering from Falling Stocks During Your Divorce Case

Depending upon the types of investments you have, some spouses could stand to benefit while the other spouse suffers from falling stock prices during a divorce in Texas. One of the spouses might have specialized knowledge about investments while the other spouse has none of that knowledge at all, and the first spouse might use that knowledge to his or her advantage in order to come out with a community property distribution or settlement that stands to benefit that spouse in the long run.

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TX divorce lawyerDivorces can be extremely contentious regardless of the income levels of the spouses or the amount of assets they share. However, high net worth divorces in Texas often are among the most contentious, given that the parties have more to lose financially than other couples who are going through the divorce process. When one or both parties realize that divorce is likely in their futures, issues about hidden assets may start to arise. If you have concerns about your spouse hiding property or trying to prevent certain assets from being classified as community property, you should reach out to a Texas high asset divorce attorney as soon as possible. At Powers and Kerr, PLLC, we routinely assist clients with this very issue and can discuss options for working with a forensic accountant to locate hidden assets.

In the meantime, we want to provide you with some useful information about recognizing when a spouse may be trying to hide assets before a divorce.

Why Would a Spouse Attempt to Hide Assets?

Why would any spouse in Austin, Texas try to hide assets before a divorce case? As you may know, Texas is a community property state. What this means is that, under Texas law, nearly all property acquired by either spouse after the date of the marriage will be classified as community property and will be subject to division in the divorce case. A spouse might try to hide assets to prevent those assets from being classified as community property and divided. There are many different ways that people can try to hide assets, and it is important to recognize the signs. If you do have concerns, you should speak with your divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

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TX high asset divorce lawyerWhile the art scene in Austin is not quite like the art scenes in New York or London, many Austin residents have large collections of valuable artwork, including sculptures, paintings, and other art objects. Many married couples in Austin collect art together, and their homes are filled with their collection. In the event such a married couple decides to get divorced, the matter of the art collection can become extremely contentious. Dividing an art collection can be quite a battle, especially when the parties do not want to see the collection divided at all. To be sure, many people who collect art feel that the collection is priceless and do not want to see any of it sold or distributed. Yet in a high asset divorce in Austin, all community property will need to be distributed between the spouses. And while the parties may personally believe that the collection is priceless, it is possible to place a market value on almost any work of art for the purposes of dividing it in a divorce. Let our Texas high asset divorce lawyers tell you more about dividing art collections in a Texas divorce.

Recognize That the Whole Collection May Be Community Property

As you may know, Texas is a community property state. What does this mean for a high asset divorce and an expensive art collection? Under Texas law, nearly all property (aside from a few exceptions) acquired after the date of the marriage is classified as “community property.” In a Texas divorce, all community property is divided between the spouses. For many married couples in Austin who have been collecting art for years or even decades, most if not all of the collection is likely to be classified as community property and will be divided as part of the divorce.

Determine the Date of Purchase and Other Documentation

If you believe that one or more pieces in the art collection are not community property, you will need to get documentation to prove it. If you purchased the painting prior to the marriage, it is important to find any receipts you have for the piece. Even if you cannot locate a receipt, it may be possible to work with your Austin divorce attorney to gather evidence that proves the painting was in your possession long before you got married and that, accordingly, it should not be part of the division of community property.

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