Do you need to disclose all of your finances in a divorce? What types of property will be subject to division, and how is it divided? The details of a divorce can get complicated, but at Skillern Firm, we have the answers and support you need. We can provide an experienced divorce attorney in Sugar Land, TX who will help you navigate this challenging process.
Do You Need to Disclose All of Your Finances in a Divorce?
You should be prepared to disclose all of your finances when you file for divorce, or when you respond to a spouse who is filing. This will allow the court to go through the legal process of determining what property is to be divided, and what the division will be.
Individuals who try to hide or cover up assets are subject to legal penalties. In some cases, that can mean giving more to their spouse than they otherwise would. In others, it could mean paying fines to the IRS. Working with an attorney will help you avoid these scenarios while seeing to it that you are not asked to give more than is appropriate.
The Role of a Qualified Divorce Attorney in Sugar Land, TX
Going through a divorce can seem overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the proceedings. Our attorneys understand that:
- The process is emotionally charged
- The well-being of children can be involved
- The rules are complex and vary state to state
- Errors come with the potential for legal ramifications
Our role is to be an objective, clear-minded party who is there to make sure you are treated fairly. That means bringing our expertise and our knowledge of the legal system to your case. So, what considerations go into the disclosure of financial assets?
Community Property vs. Individual Property
Texas is a community property state, meaning that in a marriage, most property is owned by both spouses. Typically, all assets acquired while the parties were married is considered communal property. Individual property, which is not subject to division, can include assets acquired before the marriage took place. In order for the court to distinguish between communal property and individual property in your situation, it is necessary to disclose all the details.
Community property can include income from your jobs, as well as the benefits you each receive. Dividends and investments should also be considered. Communal assets typically include real estate, such as the home in which you live and any other homes you own.
Personal property that you have purchased since your marriage, such as clothing, electronics, and collectibles, is another category of assets that is legally shared. Debt incurred within the timeframe of the marriage is usually divided, too.
In some situations, you can make a case that certain assets are your personal property because you acquired them before the marriage took place. Once they are determined to be yours alone, they will not be subject to division.
Which Aspects of Your Finances Do You Need to Disclose?
Revealing all of your finances might seem daunting, but our lawyers will help you get a fair outcome when the process is over. To avoid legal repercussions, you should disclose information about your sources of income, your savings, everything you own that is of value, and any debt you might have.
- Your salary
- Earnings from a small business
- Earnings from freelance work
- Money kept in a checking account
- Personal savings
- Retirement Savings
- Real estate
- Other items of considerable value
- Personal property
- Health insurance plans for yourself, your spouse, and/or your children
- Life insurance policies
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Amount owed on credit cards
- Payments for major purchases
- Student loans
- Any other debts which you have incurred
When you finalize a divorce, you have the right to your fair share of mutually-owned assets. Given that this can be costly for one party, it is common for individuals to attempt to cover up portions of their wealth when they suspect divorce is coming. Attempts to conceal assets can go on even as the divorce is in progress.
There are many ways people try to stow away money and other valuables. Several common examples include:
- Distributing financial assets among relatives
- Relocating accounts offshore
- Forging paperwork
If you believe your spouse might not disclose all of his or her assets, a forensic CPA can help to get a clear picture of where they are going and what the accurate financial status is.
How Are the Assets Divided?
Once everything is disclosed, several factors influence how the assets will be divided. Often, the value is split 50/50, but that is not always the case. Having a qualified attorney by your side will help you be sure that you are not required to give more than what is legally required. Here are some of the things courts consider when determining the allocation:
No-Fault vs. At-Fault
In a no-fault divorce, neither party is deemed responsible for the breakup of the marriage. In such a case, community property can sometimes be divided equally. Most people aim for a no-fault divorce because it is the least complicated, both legally and emotionally. In an at-fault divorce, one party is found to be the reason for the disunion. Reasons include cruelty, adultery, abandonment, and the conviction of a felony.
In cases where one spouse hides assets that are later discovered, he or she might be required to give up more than half of the shared value. In some cases, the split can be as great as 70/30.
Spousal Maintenance and Child Support
Spousal maintenance and child support are separate issues from the division of assets, however, they do have a major impact on what the outcome of the divorce means for you. Spousal maintenance refers to periodic payments that one spouse pays to the other following a divorce.
While less common than it used to be, it is considered in cases where one spouse is unable to support themselves. Child support is determined after careful consideration of numerous factors, including each spouse’s employment status and ability to provide resources.
Preparing to Disclose Your Finances
In most cases, you will have 30 days to provide documentation declaring your finances and supporting your declaration. Working with a divorce attorney in Sugar Land, TX can help you sort out the paperwork to make sure that it gets done correctly.
Collecting Your Documents
To make your disclosure official, you will need documents pertaining to your finances and your assets. You should be prepared to submit:
- Your taxes for the past two years
- Your last 2 pay stubs
- Forms relating to real estate and other property that you own
- Statements pertaining to your bank accounts, credit unions, and retirement accounts
- Documentation that shows your credit card usage/debt
- Other paperwork of a financial nature
Giving You, Fairness, Respect, and Expertise
Feeling supported, organized, and well-prepared can make all the difference when it comes to a divorce that goes smoothly. When you work with a qualified divorce attorney in Sugar Land, TX, your outcome can be achieved with minimal difficulty and maximum expertise. Contact Skillern Firm today to learn more about how we can help you navigate this process with compassion and knowledge.