In Texas, divorcing spouses are legally entitled to a just and equitable division of marital property. Marital property includes all assets acquired during the marriage, including financial accounts, income, retirement benefits and contributions, and long-term investments. Unfortunately, some spouses try to hide assets in an effort to secure a more favorable divorce settlement and deprive you of your legally entitled property.
This article touches on 10 warning signs to watch out for if you suspect your spouse of hiding assets during a divorce.
Divorce can summon forth the worst versions even of good people. One temptation for a soon-to-be-former spouse is to hide property from the other and from the court, or at least to be less than forthcoming about it. S.C. v. M.B., 65 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1492 (2022)
One would hope that both spouses could behave like mature adults during a divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes that is simply not the case. Below are 10 signs to watch out for if you believe your spouse may be hiding assets from you in an attempt to deny you of what is rightfully yours.
1. Cuts Off Your Access to Finances
In a recent Texas divorce case, a Collin County woman testified that her former husband had “acted swiftly” to shut off her access to family bank accounts when the couple’s relationship became rocky. In the Interest of M.H.A., No. 05-20-00787-CV, 2022 Tex. App. (Tex. App. July 7, 2022)
This is a major red flag. If your spouse has total control over your financial accounts’ information and has taken steps to block your access to that information, it could be a sign they are hiding assets from you.
2. Gives Money to Friends and Family
In the above-cited case, the wife submitted evidence that her husband had transferred over $300,000 from their joint bank account to himself or his relatives between 2017 and 2019. In the Interest of M.H.A., No. 05-20-00787-CV, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 4668, at *6-7 (Tex. App. July 7, 2022)
The wife claimed she had neither known of nor consented to any of these transfers. She also maintained that she did not discover her name was on these joint accounts until the divorce proceedings began.
3. Unreasonable Delays in Divorce Proceedings
As part of a signed mediated settlement agreement (MSA), Alejandro Penafiel agreed to purchase a fully funded and guaranteed annuity that would pay ex-wife Lisa “no less than $10,000 per month for the rest of her lifetime.”
Four years later, Alejandro was still full of excuses as to why he had not yet purchased the annuity. Lisa suspected the delays were not innocuous, and she was right. A Houston appeals court found that Alejandro had “hidden community assets, knowingly made false representations concerning community ownership of assets, and lied about stock transfer records.” In re Marriage of Penafiel, 633 S.W.3d 36, 40 (Tex. App. 2021)
4. Demands Your Signature
This also happened in the above-cited case. Read any financial document thoroughly. If you don’t understand what the document says, take it to a Texas divorce attorney for clarification.
5. Your Spouse’s Lifestyle Does Not Reflect Their Alleged Financial Situation
If your spouse claims he or she is unable to afford alimony or child support, but frequently takes exotic vacations, this is usually a sign they are hiding assets from you.
6. Unusual Purchases or Over-Paying Credit Cards
Your spouse has never expressed even the slightest interest in fine art. Now suddenly there’s a Monet painting hanging in his or her living room. This should raise red flags. Your spouse could be waiting until after the divorce settlement to sell these expensive items so he or she doesn’t have to share the proceeds with you. Similarly, if you see large credit card payments that appear to be out of the ordinary, your spouse could be creating a large credit balance in an effort to create a post-divorce “bonus” for themselves.
7. Personal Financial Programs are Suddenly Missing
Maybe your spouse has been using a financial management program like Quickbooks to keep track of expenses and transactions. If that suddenly disappears from his or her computer, it’s likely because there is something your spouse does not want you to see.
8. Complains About a Pay Cut
Oftentimes a spouse will lie about a salary decrease so they can set aside money without having to lose it to you in the divorce. Pay attention to any income decreases that are not accompanied by reduced expenses.
9. “Bad” Investments
Your spouse may claim to have made an ill-advised investment that lost them a considerable amount of money. This could be a sign your spouse is lying to you in order to wrangle a more favorable divorce settlement.
10. Deferring a Bonus or Promotion
Texas law generally considers bonuses as community income. If you receive a bonus during your divorce that is for work completed before the divorce is final, it will likely be considered a marital asset and therefore subject to division. If your spouse defers a bonus or promotion at work, that’s often a sign he or she is hiding assets.
Speak with a Family Law Attorney Today
Hiding assets during a divorce is not only unethical — it’s illegal. The Texas family law attorneys at Robinson & Henry will fight for you to receive what is rightfully yours. Call 214-884-3775 today to begin your case assessment.