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TX divorce lawyerThere are two questions that often come up in high asset divorce cases: First, how does a court properly characterize “community” versus “separate” property? Second, to what extent does the other party's fault in causing the divorce affect the court's division of community property?

Court: Judge Allowed to Award Ex-Wife Greater Share of Community Property Based on Ex-Husband's Infidelity

To give you some idea of how the courts address these questions, here is a recent decision from the Texas 1st District Court of Appeals. In this case, a former husband appealed a divorce judgment that awarded most of the couple's community property to the former wife. On appeal, the husband challenged both the unequal distribution and the overall characterization of some of the property.

The couple was previously married for 10 years. The former wife filed for divorce on grounds of infidelity and cruel treatment. The former husband apparently did not challenge these allegations. The trial court ultimately granted the divorce on grounds of infidelity and cruel treatment.

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TX divorce lawyerMarriage is not just an emotional partnership, but has a financial component as well. This can add an extra layer of complexity during the divorce process, as it requires the parties to identify, appraise, and divide their assets fairly before a judge will officially dissolve a marriage. For help reaching a property settlement agreement during your own divorce, please contact our high asset divorce legal team today.

Identifying and Characterizing Marital Assets

Generally, the property accumulated by a couple during their marriage belongs to both spouses and so must be divided equitably upon divorce. It is impossible, however, for a couple to come up with a fair property settlement if the parties do not have a thorough understanding of what types of property each is bringing to the table.

While identifying and characterizing marital assets may seem like a straightforward process, it can actually be quite difficult, especially because some assets, even when acquired during the marriage, are actually considered to be separate property. For instance, inheritances and gifts given to one spouse during a marriage will usually stay in that person’s sole possession even after divorce. Failing to account for these assets as separate property could result in a couple unfairly sharing the asset, while improperly characterizing an asset as separate in nature, could leave one spouse without his or her fair share of marital property.

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TX divorce lawyerFinance-related issues are often the biggest source of conflict amongst divorcing couples, something that is especially true for couples with a high net worth who own unique, significant, rare, or particularly valuable assets. In these cases, conflicts can quickly escalate, derailing negotiations and resulting in months or even years of litigation. Fortunately, high asset divorces don’t have to be accompanied by conflict and disagreement, as there are a number of important steps that couples can take to help their divorce move towards amicable relations and a secure financial future for both parties. For help ensuring that your own divorce goes as smoothly as possible, it is critical to speak with an experienced high asset divorce lawyer who can advise and assist you.

Obtaining a Clear Picture of Your Asset Portfolio

While many married couples have an equal say in financial decision making, it is also not uncommon for one spouse to be more involved in overseeing the family’s financial holdings than the other. Unfortunately, this can leave the non-involved spouse at a disadvantage if a couple later decides to obtain a divorce. For this reason, spouses who are considering filing for divorce are strongly encouraged to begin taking steps now to document their financial situation by collecting copies of bank statements, loan documents, tax returns, invoices, and receipts.

Hiring a financial expert can be crucial to the success of this endeavor, as can retaining an experienced family law attorney who can ensure that the parties receive equitable treatment during the property division process.

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TX divorce lawyerTexas residents who file for divorce and who are unable to come to an agreement regarding how their assets will be divided are often concerned about how their inherited assets will be handled by the court during the process of property division. While it is true that for the most part, inheritances that are left to only one spouse during a marriage are considered the separate property of that spouse, this is not always the case. For help determining whether your own inheritance could be divided between you and your soon-to-be former spouse upon divorce, please contact our dedicated high asset divorce legal team today.

What Is Separate Property?

Texas is a community property state, which means that during divorce, all of a couple’s marital property must be divided equally. For this reason, determining which assets qualify as marital and which are considered separate is extremely important to the results of the property division process. Marital property is made up of assets accumulated by the couple during the marriage, regardless of which spouse purchased or acquired them. The term separate property, on the other hand, refers to assets that the parties brought into the marriage.

Important Exceptions

While determining which type of property an asset qualifies as depends largely on when the asset was acquired, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. For instance, inheritances that are left to one party exclusively are usually considered to be separate property, even when the bequest is made during the course of the beneficiary’s marriage. Similarly, assets that would initially qualify as separate property can become marital property if they were commingled with the couple’s marital property during the marriage. This same rule applies to inheritances, so just because a person received an inheritance during his or her marriage, does not automatically mean that it will be considered separate property. Instead, courts will also look at what the inheritor used the bequest for when determining whether it should be divided equally.

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TX divorce lawyerDivorce can be expensive, especially for couples who have accumulated significant assets or are high wage earners. Fortunately, there are steps that divorcing parties can take to reduce their costs and increase the odds of reaching an amicable and fair settlement. To learn more about preparing for a high net worth divorce, please contact a Georgetown high asset divorce lawyer today.

Evaluating Your Financial Situation by Identifying All Marital Assets

Almost any type of property that has value can be considered an asset when it comes to dissolving a marriage, so divorcing couples should keep this in mind when listing all property and debts and include not only real estate, vehicles, and business interests, but also:

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Texas divorce lawyerMany couples who get divorced are able to agree on who will retain what property. However, the more unusual assets and collectibles a couple has, the harder it becomes to appraise them and determine who should retain ownership, especially when an item has an extremely high value or has a special meaning to one of the spouses. While this could include jewelry, as well as antiques, more and more families are investing in artwork, which means that in most cases, if the couple divorces, the property will need to be divided equitably.

Appraisals and proof of purchase are critical to the outcome of these types of conflict, as courts consider property obtained prior to a marriage to be the sole property of the original owner. Even when a piece of art was purchased after divorce, one party could have a strong claim to it if it was given as a gift or was part of an inheritance. Because dividing unusual assets, such as artwork, is so difficult, retaining an experienced high asset divorce attorney is critical to ensuring that all of a couple’s property is fairly and promptly divided upon divorce.

Preparatory Steps

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Texas divorce lawyerCouples who divorce in Texas must divide their assets on an equitable and fair basis. This includes bank account funds, vehicles, real estate, personal property, retirement funds, and even debt. However, property division can become difficult when a diverse range of assets are involved. For example, many high asset divorces involve the division of stock options, which are divisible in some, but not all situations. If you own stock options and are concerned about how or if they will be divided upon divorce, please contact an experienced Cedar Park high asset divorce attorney who can explain your options.

Separate Property Calculations

Like any other type of property owned by a couple, stocks can be divided during divorce, but only if they are considered marital property. If, for instance, a spouse owned stock as separate property prior to the marriage, he or she could retain sole ownership of those stocks. However, this only applies if the spouse participates in a stock option plan that is provided by their employer and the option or stock was granted before the marriage, but needed to continuously remain employed during the marriage before the option could be exercised. In these cases, the spouse’s interest will be equal to the fraction of the option in which the numerator is the sum of:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_mediation_20180311-212328_1.jpgDividing marital assets can be one of the most contentious issues in a Texas divorce, especially when a significant amount of money is at stake. In many cases, couples must resort to litigation and have a judge issue an order directing them as to how their assets should be divided. Litigating a divorce in court can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining, so it is important for couples to remember that it is possible to avoid litigation completely and reach a fair settlement through mediation. This option allows couples to maintain more control over the terms of their final arrangement, while also saving them time and money. For more information on whether mediation is right for you, please contact one of our Georgetown high asset divorce attorneys at your earliest convenience.

Property Division Settlement

Mediation offers divorcing couples an environment where they can work through divorce-related issues respectfully. These conversations are facilitated by a neutral third party who can help keep the parties on track, remind them of their goals, and ensure that emotion does not derail proceedings. There are other benefits to choosing mediation for a high asset divorce including the following:

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