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TX divorce lawyerCouples with significant or diverse assets are often forced to grapple with legal issues that don’t apply in most divorce cases. This can make the divorce process not only more complicated, but also more acrimonious, especially when it comes to valuing the family home, so if you are thinking about filing for divorce and have substantial real estate holdings, you should consider contacting an experienced Round Rock high asset divorce attorney who can ensure that your property is appraised by a qualified expert.

Comparable Sales

For a marital estate to be fairly divided, the value of a couple’s property must be accurately assessed. When it comes to real estate, this usually means that the parties will need to hire an appraiser who can estimate value based on current market conditions and recent sales of comparable properties in the area. When dealing with especially valuable properties, the appraisal process also often includes consideration of additional features of the property in question, which could make it more valuable than other similar properties. Unfortunately, valuing the unique features of a property can be a subjective process. For example, one appraiser may include the value of a swimming pool or a four car garage, but fail to take note of marble countertops or custom kitchen appliances during the appraisal process. For this reason, most couples going through a high asset divorce are encouraged to obtain multiple appraisals to ensure that an accurate number is reached.

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Texas divorce lawyerMany couples who decide to get divorced have not even heard of the acceptance of benefits doctrine and so don’t know that it could play a significant role in their divorce proceedings. According to this doctrine, litigants are not permitted to accept the benefits of a property settlement and then later decide to challenge it. The only exception to this rule is when the litigant can provide proof that the ruling should be overturned due to special circumstances. This is a difficult task, so if you formerly accepted a property settlement, but later decided to challenge it, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced Round Rock high asset divorce attorney who can explain your legal options.

What Is the Acceptance of Benefits Doctrine?

Just last year, the Texas Supreme Court grappled with the acceptance of benefits doctrine in the case of Kramer v. Kastleman, which involved a couple who had signed a property settlement agreement prior to their divorce. The judge later orally approved the agreement and granted a divorce, although he didn’t issue a written decree until almost a year later. However, before the written decree was issued, the wife rescinded her earlier agreement to the settlement, arguing that her former husband coerced her signature and so committed fraud.

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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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Texas divorce attorneyWhile many people think that the property division process during divorce only involves splitting up assets, such as bank accounts, the family home, or personal property, the reality is that those who are going through a divorce must also divide debt. Like assets, debts are divided based on their status as either community property or separate property, as well as a number of other factors, making it especially important for the divorcing parties to have a firm understanding of the origins of their debts. To ensure that you aren’t saddled with debt that is your spouse’s responsibility, please contact a high asset divorce attorney who has the resources and experience necessary to help you reach a fair settlement.

Marital Debt

Although it is true that debts incurred by one spouse during a marriage are generally presumed to be community property debt, which means that they must be divided equitably upon divorce, Texas law also takes other factors into account when dividing debts. For example, debts incurred during marriage could end up being the responsibility of one spouse if he or she solely incurred the debt. If, for instance, one spouse took out a credit card in his name during his marriage, he will most likely be held solely responsible for that debt, but only if the debt was used to purchase items from which only he benefitted. If, on the other hand, the debt was used to buy necessities, then the debt holder’s spouse becomes indirectly responsible for them, regardless of whether his or her name is actually attached to the debt. What qualifies as a “necessary” depends on the specific circumstances of a case, although at a minimum, necessaries include the following:

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Texas family lawyerCouples who are going through a high asset divorce often experience certain difficulties that are not faced by other couples. For instance, because the parties in these situations have a wide range of assets to divide, the dissolution process can become much more difficult, especially if the couple disagrees about who should retain what property. Dividing retirement funds can be particularly complicated, so if you and your spouse are going through a divorce and you have questions or concerns about dividing the contents of a retirement fund or pension, it is critical to speak with an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can ensure that you receive an equitable portion of your family’s assets.

The Importance of Accurate Record-Keeping

Unlike other types of accounts, retirement funds are not always checked on a regular basis. For this reason, many people forget how much has been contributed to their account at any given time. While this may not cause any serious difficulties in a person’s day to day life, it can become a problem during a divorce when having accurate and extensive records of account contributions can be instrumental in determining who will receive what portion of an account’s funds. This is because how a court divides a couple’s property depends on when the assets were accumulated. For instance, property owned prior to marriage will remain in the sole possession of the party who purchased or received it. Assets accumulated during the marriage, including the contents of a retirement account, on the other hand, will be divided equitably between the couple.

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Texas divorce lawyerAlthough going through a divorce usually tends to be an emotional and complex process regardless of a couple’s finances, those with significant assets are faced with unique problems. For instance, many high assets couples have multiple sources of income, including investments, stocks and bonds, and stakes in businesses, as well as a wide variety of valuable assets ranging from paintings and antiques to automobiles and real estate. In these situations, recording and inventorying all of a couple’s assets can be difficult, especially if one of the spouses is attempting to hide assets. In high asset divorces, it is much easier for a spouse to get away with this type of conduct, so if you are considering divorce and are concerned that your spouse has begun to hide assets, please contact a Round Rock high asset divorce attorney who can assess your financial situation and ensure that your interests are protected.

Distributing Assets

Texas is a community property state, which means that assets acquired by a couple during their marriage must be divided equitably upon divorce. There are a few exceptions to this rule, which apply in cases where one party received an inheritance or gift during the marriage. However, even in these situations, the parties could be required to divide the assets if they were later commingled with marital property owned by both parties. Furthermore, each party is permitted to retain sole ownership over all assets obtained prior to the marriage.

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Texas complex litigation attorneyAlthough many families treat their pets like members of the family, the reality is that for the purposes of deciding who gets the pets in a divorce, animals are legally considered property in Texas. This means that if a couple is unable to come to an out-of-court agreement about who will get custody of the pet, the court will assess the situation based on community property law. This can have unfair results, so if you are going through a divorce and have questions about who will retain custody of your family pet, please contact a family law attorney who has experience in complex property litigation matters.

Community Property Rule

Because animals are considered property in Texas, courts will apply the standard community property rules when deciding pet custody issues. This means that the court will attempt to divide the property in a way that is equitable. When a family pet is the property at issue, the court may assess who has historically been the pet’s primary caretaker, evaluate each spouse’s living situation, and if a couple has children, determine whether they are especially attached to the animal.

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