No matter what the reason, divorce can be acutely stressful and take a heavy emotional toll. Deciding how to divide your marital assets is a crucial step in this process, and it can often be difficult to agree on how to do so fairly. Furthermore, if you and your spouse own businesses or have a high net worth, the process of dividing your financial assets can be especially complicated.
There are several circumstances in which your divorce might require complex asset division. These include:
- High net worth
- Real estate investments
- International property
- Stocks and investments
- Inheritances or trusts
- Military retirement accounts
- Government pensions
- Intellectual property rights
- Hidden assets
If you and your spouse possess assets that fall under any of these categories, dividing your assets during a divorce may be especially complex. It is crucial that you enlist the help of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney to ensure the best outcome on your behalf.
How Is Complex Property Divided During a Divorce?
As Texas is a community property state, all property acquired during the marriage is assumed to be community property. That is, it is presumed that property acquired during the marriage is owned jointly and equally by both spouses. In like manner, all debts acquired during the marriage are owed jointly and equally by both spouses. Even if, for instance, a property is held only in the name of one spouse and not the other, that is not enough to disqualify it as community property.
The assumption that all property is owned jointly and equally can be challenged, however, if it can be proven to the court that certain assets are separate – rather than community – property and therefore not subject to division during your divorce.
What Counts as Separate Property?
Generally, any property acquired prior to your marriage is considered separate property and any property acquired after your marriage is considered community property by default.
Separate property can include:
- Assets acquired prior to the marriage
- Income earned prior to the marriage
- Gifts or inheritances given only to one spouse during the marriage
- Property purchased during the marriage with separate property (e.g. assets acquired prior to the marriage)
- Personal injury awards compensating for one spouse’s pain and suffering
- Property declared separate by written agreement agreed to by both spouses, like a legally valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
If you or your spouse is claiming that a certain property is separate property, the spouse making that claim carries the burden of proving that the property is separate.
Why Is It Important to Work with an Experienced Complex Asset Division Attorney?
While any divorce can create anxiety and discord, those that involve complex asset division can be especially overwhelming because there is so much at stake. This complicated and time-consuming process can be eased by an effective legal strategy that takes into account your particular needs, concerns, and goals.
A knowledgeable attorney, for instance, will help you to identify documents that the court will require to trace your separate property. They should also advise you when it might be necessary to engage independent financial and accounting experts that can assist with property valuation, tracing assets, or auditing financial records. It is also important to keep in mind that divorces that involve complex asset division often have long-term tax consequences, and an experienced attorney can help you understand and anticipate these financial and legal repercussions.
Given the complexity and high stakes of complex asset division in Texas, hiring a reputable family law attorney is a crucial step toward protecting your financial future. At Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C., we are committed to pursuing a legal strategy that protects your best interests.
Are you looking for a reputable complex asset division attorney in Houston or its surrounding areas? Contact Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. today (281) 612-5443 or fill out our online form today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys.