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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 In traditional 401(k) plans, funds are not taxed until they are withdrawn, although withdrawals from Roth 401(k) accounts are not taxed since those are funded with “after-tax” contributions.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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TX high asset divorce lawyerHigh net worth divorces in Texas have many complex elements that do not exist in other types of divorce cases. If you are getting ready to file for divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, you should know just how important it is to have a Texas high net worth divorce lawyer on your side throughout this complicated and often lengthy process. Given the complexity of high asset divorces, we want to go through a list of things that anyone anticipating a high net worth divorce should consider.

1. You Should Hire a Lawyer Who Has Experience Handling High Asset Divorces

You want to make certain you have an Austin divorce lawyer who has experience handling high asset divorces in Texas.

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TX divorcel lawyerWhen you are getting ready to file for divorce, or your spouse has recently filed, you should be thinking carefully about the divorce lawyer you will hire to represent you. For high net worth couples in Austin, your choice of a divorce attorney is particularly important given that your case is likely to have complications due to the high value of your assets and earnings. You may be wondering: what makes a high asset divorce different? And you might even be thinking that any divorce lawyer familiar with community property division and child custody issues under the Texas Family Code can handle your case.

However, it is essential to keep in mind that there are various issues that do in fact make high asset divorces different from other divorces, and you should always have a Texas high asset divorce lawyer on your side who has years of experience assisting clients in high net worth divorces in and around Austin. The following are just a few of the ways in which high asset divorces are different from divorces involving spouses with lower incomes and assets.

Valuation of Complex Property

High asset divorces often involve high-value complex property that can be difficult to value without the assistance from an appraiser. For example, high asset divorces in Austin may involve businesses that need to be appraised, valuable art collections that need to be appraised for current market value, or real estate in different parts of the country (or even different parts of the world) that will need to be accurately appraised. Often, distinct and high-value property will need to involve multiple appraisers with experience providing valuations for niche assets.

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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 lawyerHigh asset divorces in Texas are complex for many reasons, from community property that is of high-value and difficult to properly appraise to hidden assets. We often think of hidden assets as specific property, both tangible and intangible, that one spouse might try to conceal from the other spouse and from the court. For example, hidden assets often include out-of-state or overseas bank accounts or investments, business holdings, and even real estate. Yet another form that asset hiding can take is when the higher-earning spouse attempts to conceal his or her actual earnings. Income must be reported accurately to the court. If a spouse does hide the full amount of his or her income, Texas law allows the court to award the other spouse a higher amount of the community property. The spouse who hid assets can also face additional penalties.

If you do not know your spouse’s actual income and are preparing for a divorce, it is essential to work with an aggressive high asset divorce lawyer in Texas who can assist you. The following are some of the ways that you and your attorney can determine your spouse’s actual income.

Locate Tax Returns

If you have access to previous tax returns, especially if you filed jointly with your spouse, it is important to get copies of those tax returns as soon as possible. Your jointly filed tax return can allow you to determine your spouse’s reported income for those years. If you are married filing separately and may have access to both of your tax returns, you should make any copies so that you will have this information.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer_20200629-020558_1.jpgWhen you are meeting with attorneys and deciding how to proceed with your Texas high asset divorce, it is incredibly important to ensure that you have the right advocate on your side. While there are many different law firms that may do work in family law, it is essential to hire an experienced Austin high asset divorce attorney who has particular experience working on high net worth divorce cases and ensuring that high asset divorces are handled as smoothly as possible. You also want to be certain that you have an attorney who understands your particular needs and will tailor any legal strategies to fit the facts of your specific case. When you are in the early stages of planning for a high asset divorce, the following are some of the questions you should ask potential attorneys with whom you schedule consultations.

Do You Handle High Asset Divorce Cases?

As we mentioned above, it is imperative that you hire a Texas divorce attorney who has extensive experience handling high asset or high net worth divorce cases under Texas law. Although many different family law attorneys in the Austin, TX area may have experience representing clients in divorce cases, high asset divorces have a wide variety of specific issues that may not arise in a divorce involving middle-class couples.

Can I Speak with Satisfied Clients or Read Testimonials?

Your Texas high asset divorce lawyer should always be willing to provide you with information about successes and satisfied clients. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to put you in touch with previous clients who were satisfied with the outcome of their high net worth divorce, and who can speak to the attorney’s experience handling cases similar to your own. For other law firms, it may be possible to have access to testimonials from previous clients.

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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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