After one spouse files a divorce petition, the next stages of the divorce process focus on life after divorce. This is when couples work together through their attorneys (or when they cannot work together, they sort things out at trial) to determine a financial settlement and, if children are involved, child custody issues.
Initially, couples will rely on each other for full disclosure of financial information, including a complete listing of all assets and debts. If a spouse feels that he or she is not getting the full story, however, the two sides will have to go through discovery, a legal process by which each side can use tools like interrogatories, depositions and subpoenas to obtain the information that they seek.
Unfortunately, some spouses may have incentives to lie, hide assets and make it as difficult as possible for their partners to obtain full information regarding their finances. In a community property state like Texas, all property acquired during marriage is assumed to be marital property subject to division at divorce time. A spouse may use creative arguments and deceit to convince a judge that property is not marital, but separate, which means that the spouse would not have to divide that property.
Additionally, some spouses may undervalue assets or fail to report them altogether. The latter can occur when one spouse has primarily been responsible for the couple’s finances over the course of their marriage. As an example, spouses have gotten into trouble for covertly siphoning funds to an overseas bank account.
Misleading a court regarding finances come divorce time can lead to severe consequences. A spouse could face contempt of court and, most likely, the wrath of the judge. You can imagine how unfavorable of a divorce settlement a spouse will likely receive if the judge finds that he or she misled the court and the ex-spouse.
For your divorce case, did you suspect that your spouse was hiding assets? How did you ensure that your divorce settlement was fair?
John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce attorneys