Texas is a community property state, so when you divorce you should be entitled to receive property equal to half the total value of assets you own as a couple. With very few exceptions, all property acquired and money earned during the course of the marriage should be considered community property. This means even if your spouse works and earns the bulk of the money and you are a stay-at-home parent or have a lower paying job, you should still get half of all marital assets.
The problem, of course, comes when one of the spouses hides money and property. A person who is considering a divorce could try to shelter assets to keep them safe from the divorce court. An experienced divorce attorney can provide assistance in finding assets when this happens, but this makes the process of divorce much more complicated.
What Happens When Your Spouse Hides Assets in Divorce?
The problem of one spouse hiding assets from the other is not limited only to couples in the United States. It is an issue everywhere where divorces occur and property is divided. In fact, it is such a big problem in England that the Telegraph recently published an article about a group of women who have joined forces to try to fight for justice from the courts in cases where assets are being hidden.
The women, calling themselves the "First Wives Club," are largely affluent divorcees who say they are disillusioned by "dysfunctionality" of the court system. Most have been through lengthy battles over millions in suspected assets they claim their husbands have hidden from the courts. They have formed a foundation that will campaign for tougher penalties for spouses who don't disclose assets, as well as for stronger powers to force asset disclosure within a set time limit.
In the United States, including Texas, there are legal requirements in place mandating each spouse provide open and honest disclosure of all income, assets, expenses, and debts. The reality, however, is married couples hide information about money all the time, both during the marriage and when the marriage is ending. Forbes reports 58 percent of people responding to a survey said they hid cash from a spouse and 34 percent admitted lying to a spouse about finances, debts, and money they were earning. Dishonest behavior doesn't end when people go to divorce court, it only accelerates.
Consequences for hiding assets can be severe, if someone gets caught. A financial affidavit has to be signed as a part of the divorce process and each spouse swears under oath that they provide full disclosure. Penalties for dishonesty could include fines, fees, dismissal of claims, and even incarceration in some situations. One famous 1999 case involved a woman who failed to reveal she'd won more than a million in the lottery 11 days before filing for divorce. All the winnings were awarded to the ex-husband in that particular example.
The key, of course, is your spouse will be fined and penalized for lying about assets only if he or she gets caught. This is why it is so important to have an experienced family lawyer helping with the divorce process.