The Houston divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan work as hard as possible to uncover any hidden assets or money that an opposing party may be attempting to hide from one of our clients. Through the use of discovery requests, discussions with opposing counsel and in court testimony, our lawyers like to think that we do a terrific job at making sure the full value of a marital estate is known to our client when it comes time to make decisions about settling their divorce.
However, the question remains: what happens if once a divorce is finalized a party finds out that their ex spouse was not truthful with them and failed to make known assets that were available to them during a divorce? This blog post will go over this issue in greater detail and hopefully shed some light on a subject that may be relevant for many of our readers.
A real life example of hidden assets in a Divorce case
A colleague of mine recently shared the story of former client of his who was married to their spouse for over twenty five years. This woman had recently gotten divorced from her husband only to learn after the divorce was finalized that her spouse had not disclosed a large amount of retirement income during the pendency of the divorce. Understandably, she was upset and wanted her share of the retirement income.
A suit was filed that brought the parties back to the court that retained jurisdiction over the matter. When asked by the judge to explain himself, the husband stated that the retirement funds had been spent on expenses of the community estate during the divorce. This included spousal support that the court had ordered him to pay for the duration of the divorce. The judge held that because the wife had failed to prove that this money had existed at the time the parties were divorced her request for a split of the alleged retirement funds would have to be denied.
The wife in our story appealed the lower court’s decision, arguing that she had met her burden by showing with sufficient evidence that the money was in existence at the time of the divorce. However, the higher court disagreed that she had done so. For all her detective work, the wife could not trace the money to its source- whether a bank account or a hole dug in the husband’s backyard. The reason for the court’s decision is based in our state’s Family Code.
Dividing property after a divorce in Texas
If a party to a divorce wants to divide up property after the divorce has already been finalized they must look to sections 9.201 and 9.203 of the Texas Family Code. It stands to reason that only property that was in existence at the time of the divorce can be divided up after the divorce decree has been signed by both parties and the judge. If a spouse has dissolved a piece of property through sale or other means prior to the divorce being finalized it must be shown that the spouse committed fraud in doing so.
How to prevent money from falling between the cracks in a divorce
Functioning as a part of the discovery process, both parties to a divorce in Texas must fill out and submit to the court and opposing party a sworn inventory and appraisement. This document goes over in great detail each party’s opinions on how particular assets are to be characterized, either as community or separate property. The appraisement part of the equation is that the parties will also assign dollar values to particular assets in order to provide the court a better idea of what sort of importance the parties place on any one piece of property
For the purposes of this article, and the situation detailed above, it is important to make sure all assets are disclosed in the Inventory and Appraisement in order to avoid the possibility of having to attempt to “split the baby” after the ink is already dried on the Final Decree of Divorce. If the disputed asset was not disclosed on the Inventory and Appraisement then a person’s case to have that item split up is severely weakened.
Finally, the parties involved in a situation involving a post divorce split of assets can look at the language included in their Final Decree of Divorce. The division of assets and debts in a divorce decree is usually done in very straightforward language. This is done in order to avoid any questions as to the intent of the parties and to make the document readable years after the divorce has been finalized.
Discovery as a tool to have all assets disclosed in a divorce
If you have reason to believe that your spouse was hiding a bank account or other source of money during your divorce then you should look to see if you made discovery requests for that information. If you did not make a formal request for that information then the court will likely look at this as a waiver of your right to a share of the money after the divorce is already done.
Due diligence is the name of the game. The law in Texas allows for a party to seek information such as bank accounts and other financial assets in multiple ways. If a party fails to take advantage of them it will be difficult for a court to allow you to come back after the divorce is done to request a split of the asset.
What you don’t know CAN hurt you in a divorce
Knowledge is power. In no application is this more true than in a divorce case. Divorces offer many an opportunity to hide information and keep your spouse in the dark until the divorce is over with. Having an advocate and representative by your side who can assist you in your pursuit of what is fair can be incredibly important. If you have questions as to what is rightly yours in a Texas divorce please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our consultations are free of charge and the advice you receive could make a huge difference in your life.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- What is and Why do I need to do Discovery in my Texas Divorce?
- You've filed your Divorce... now what? The "Discovery Process" and why it's important
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn't: What can I do?
- Am I Married? - Marital Status in Texas
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
- Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Attorneys
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Attorneys right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce attorneys in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.