Hidden Marital Assets Attorneys, Houston TX

Frequently, in a marriage, one spouse takes care of the finances over the other. There is usually one person keeping track of the bills, investment accounts, and other property issues. In the event of a dissolution of the relationship, one party might be woefully uninformed about the status and extent of the marital estate. This can make it easy for one party to hide assets. There are a few ways a lawyer can help you find the existence of hidden assets during a divorce in Texas.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

When two people get married, they owe each other certain duties, including a fiduciary duty. This is the legal duty of one spouse to act in the best interest of the other spouse. In other words, neither party can go on an irresponsible spending spree, hide major assets, or mortgage away the community estate without that other party’s permission. Hiding significant assets from one spouse could lead to an additional cause of action in the divorce.

Consequences of Hiding Marital Assets

Spouses that try to hide assets or lie about the value of the estate may be committing fraud on the community estate. If the court discovers this fraud, the consequences can be severe. The attorneys, with the help of experts, can calculate the amount by which the community estate was reduced by the spouse's fraudulent behavior. This is called the reconstituted estate – the value the estate would have been worth had there been no fraudulent conduct. The court will account for the reconstituted estate in dividing the property.

Proving Fraud: Discovery & Forensic Accounting

It is very difficult to find a hidden asset. First, one of the parties must suspect that assets are being hidden – you do not know what to ask for if something doesn’t exist. Next, if the spouse is clever, they may have been very discrete in financial transactions, or transferred assets into a third party’s name. There are ways to try to determine whether hidden assets are an issue in a divorce.

First, most contested cases will go through a formal process called discovery. This is where the parties request and exchange specific documents or are required to answer some questions under oath (called interrogatories). They are required to respond to these requests comprehensively and thoroughly.

Once discovery is ongoing, it might be useful to enlist the help of a forensic accountant. These professionals will examine all the financial documents and can determine whether there are assets producing income that are unaccounted for, or if there are suspicious transactions occurring. Accountants can also follow transactions between accounts to ensure there aren't third parties receiving benefits unknown to one of the spouses. The services of a forensic accountant can be expensive – but for complex divorces where significant assets might be hidden, it is well worth the investment. Consider them to be detectives in your case.

Our Team Can Help

We have the resources and know-how to help you determine whether your spouse might be hiding assets. We know how to uncover clues to show the court that your spouse has engaged in fraud and to ask for the court to reconstitute the estate. Our team is highly capable of guiding you through the complex process of discovering and proving fraud.