When the time comes to divide property in a divorce, it may not be such a good idea to trust wholly what your soon-to-be ex tells you. Unfortunately, some spouses try to hide assets from divorce negotiations. While this is illegal, you can't necessarily count on the hidden assets coming to light unless you know about them. To help protect yourself financially, it is best to meet with an attorney with experience in complex property division.
In Texas, virtually all assets acquired during a marriage are regarded as community property, which is subject to division between the spouses. Separate property is the other category, which we discussed briefly last week in our post about being prepared for divorce. Separate property is that which was acquired before the marriage, as a gift or after separation.
Sometimes one divorcing spouse will give the other misleading information about particular assets. This most often happens with stock options or retirement accounts such as a 401(k)s. The excuse given is that these assets are related to the spouse's job, so the other spouse doesn't have a right to them.
But that isn't true unless the assets were acquired before or after the marriage, or unless a prenuptial agreement includes language that specifically addresses these types of assets.
It is also a good idea to make an extensive list of all of the possible assets acquired during the marriage. Even if, say, a husband bought a sports car that only he ever drove, that vehicle can be counted as community property if it was purchased while the spouses were married.
Property division can be one of the most complex (and contentious) aspects of divorce, and having a legal advocate on your side may be your best bet for ensuring that all marital assets are accounted for.
Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband's 401(k) And Other Assets," Jeff Landers, Aug. 8, 2013