Report: Many Texas spouses may hide assets during divorce

Surveys show that many people may conceal assets or purchases from significant others, which is a possibility that spouses should recognize during divorce.

When couples in the Houston metro area get divorced, both spouses are entitled to marital property, which includes most income and assets obtained during the marriage. However, some spouses may try to avoid a fair division of property by concealing marital assets or other assets that could affect the settlement. Unfortunately, reports show that this kind of deceit may be more common than many spouses realize.

Secretive financial habits

CNBC reports that earlier this year, a Creditcards.com report helped shed light on the potential prevalence of financial deception. The survey found that more than 7 million people in the U.S. have, unbeknownst to their live-in partners, kept at least one secret bank account or credit card. Additionally, 26 percent of men and 14 percent of women have concealed a purchase worth at least $500 from a significant other.

According to The Huffington Post, the National Endowment for Financial Education has conducted research indicating that spouses in two-thirds of marriages hide funds. Surveys from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers also show that financial deceit or concerns about this behavior are not uncommon. Nine out of ten AAML members report seeing clients spy digitally on their spouses in an attempt to uncover hidden financial information.

It's important for divorcing spouses in Texas to appreciate the possibility of assets being hidden. The concealment of assets may have significant effects during divorce, since Texas follows community property laws. When spouses can't agree on how to divide property, a family law judge must divide it equitably. If all marital and separate property isn't accounted for during this process, one spouse may lose out significantly.

Tracing hidden assets

According to The Huffington Post, there are several steps that spouses can take to check whether valuable marital assets are being hidden. These include:

  • Look over official financial statements, including tax returns, bank statements and pay stubs, to make sure income isn't missing from known accounts.
  • Check that all bills and monthly expenses are being paid from known bank accounts; if not, other accounts may exist.
  • Investigate transfers into other accounts, payments made toward undisclosed assets and purchases of high-value items.

To ensure that nothing is overlooked, spouses may benefit from working with a divorce attorney who has experience searching for hidden assets.

Seeking a reasonable settlement

Given the emotionally devastating nature of divorce, many spouses may have trouble focusing on the possibility of hidden assets and other financial concerns. However, failing to ensure that assets are appropriately divided can have serious long-term financial ramifications. Consequently, spouses should consider partnering with an attorney to improve the likelihood of a fair and appropriate division of assets.

Keywords: divorce, assets, property, division