When a married couple decides to legally part ways, untangling their assets is often complicated and contentious. The law requires each partner to come out of the divorce with an equitable portion of the couple’s property. Disputes around whether property belongs to an individual spouse or is a marital asset are common, especially when the couple has a high net worth, and a considerable dollar value is at stake.

Unfortunately, many spouses in this situation might try to hide or undervalue assets to cheat their partners out of their fair share. In other cases, a spouse might try to claim a portion of a trust or other asset that is the personal property of the other spouse.

If you have decided to leave your marriage and you and your spouse have a significant net worth, talk to our proactive Houston high-asset divorce lawyer as early in the process as possible. Our driven divorce attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates could take appropriate measures to ensure that the settlement is fair.

Houston Community Property Explained

According to Texas Family Code § 3.003, all property either spouse possesses during the marriage or at the time of dissolution is presumed to be marital property, also called community property. Divorcing spouses are not entitled to equal shares of their marital assets. Instead, the split of community property must be fair under the circumstances.

When couples divorce, they can either agree to a split of the marital property, or a judge will divide it in a way they deem fair. The factors a Judge could consider when distributing marital assets include:

  • Which party, if any, is at fault for the marriage’s failure
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Marital debt
  • Which spouse has greater earning power considering education, work history, age, health, and other relevant factors
  • Whether one spouse will have more childcare responsibilities than the other
  • Value of the property each spouse brought into the marriage
  • Any attempt to hide or devalue marital assets
  • Tax implications for each spouse
  • Whether a spouse or child has a long-term or permanent disability or other special needs

High net worth couples often have complex finances. Our well-versed attorney could ensure that all assets either party acquired during the marriage are accounted for and apportioned equitably. We could also work to protect any personal property from claims by the spouse.

Law Protects Individual Property in a Divorce to a Degree

The law presumes that assets an individual possesses while married are community assets. However, it also recognizes that people often enter a marriage with their own property. Divorcing spouses have no right to claim a portion of their partner’s individual property.

In general, individual property includes everything the spouse owned at the time of marriage, in addition to inheritances, gifts, and money received as proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit. However, in many circumstances, individual property could be treated like joint property. A knowledgeable divorce attorney could advise you about how a judge in Houston is likely to view specific assets.

For example, perhaps a spouse is claiming the full value of an inheritance as an individual asset. If the couple used part of the money to improve the home they bought together, the contributing spouse cannot claim that portion of their inheritance as an individual asset. In addition, the increase in the home’s value resulting from the renovation is a joint asset, even though one partner’s money funded the improvements.

Establishing Rights to Assets in Houston High Net-Worth Divorces

Divorces between partners who enjoyed a privileged lifestyle while together can be bitter. The partner who came into the marriage with more money could try to persuade a court that some marital assets are theirs alone. The party with fewer financial resources might try to claim a portion of assets that belong to their spouse.

An attorney experienced in handling divorces among high net-worth couples is skilled in protecting your rights, whether that means protecting individual assets from a predatory spouse or securing a fair share of community property. Using forensic accountants, real estate and personal property appraisers, actuaries, economists, and other experts, a seasoned advocate could ensure a divorce settlement reflects an equitable split.

Speak with a Houston Attorney about Your High-Asset Divorce

Divorce is a wrenching thing to go through regardless of the circumstances. It can be especially traumatizing when your spouse uses unfair tactics to deprive you of funds and property that are rightfully yours.

Our Houston high-asset divorce lawyer can offer the deep knowledge and tactical skills that you need to achieve a reasonable settlement. Get in touch with Angela Faye Brown & Associates as soon as you make the decision to end your marriage.