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TX divorce lawyerDivorcing couples with unique, diverse, or especially valuable assets face a host of unique issues. For instance, many high asset divorces require couples to decide the fate of multiple properties, including not only the family home but also vacation homes and investment properties. This can be a complicated process, so if you are going through a divorce and have been unable to come to an agreement about who will retain ownership of one or more vacation properties, it is important to contact an experienced high asset divorce attorney who will aggressively represent your interests, whether during negotiations or in the courtroom.

How Are Assets Categorized During Divorce in Texas?

Texas is a community property state, which means that only assets that were acquired during a marriage must be divided in the event of divorce. When it comes to real estate, this is true regardless of whose name is on a title or deed. Unlike community assets, separate property is any property that was owned by either spouse before the marriage took place. The only exceptions to these rule apply in cases of inheritance, in which case, a person’s assets can be considered separate property even if they were acquired during the marriage.

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TX divorce lawyerAll Texas divorces must be conducted in compliance with state law. However, this doesn’t mean that all divorces are the same. High asset divorces, in particular, come with unique issues. For this reason, it is especially important for those with significant, unique, or diverse assets who have decided to dissolve their marriages, to retain an experienced high asset divorce attorney who is well-versed in these issues and can ensure that their interests and rights are protected.

Financial Complication

One of the most difficult parts of the divorce process is deciding how assets will be divided. This is especially true for those with significant assets who don’t have a prenuptial agreement, as the process of identifying, appraising, and attempting to divide property is much more complex. In these cases, it is not uncommon for couples to have rare or unique property, such as real estate, antiques, artwork, and jewelry, that is both difficult to appraise and divide. It is also much easier in these situations for one spouse to try to hide specific assets, which is both unlawful and could result in an unfair property settlement agreement.

Emotional Implications

Even when a couple has an amicable relationship, going through a divorce is stressful. In many cases, these high emotions are only fueled in high asset divorces, as there is simply more to fight over. It’s also not uncommon for one spouse to have more knowledge of finances and property ownership, in which case, the other party could end up with an unfair settlement if the more financially knowledgeable spouse failed to disclose the ownership of certain property. This, in turn, can make the divorce process even more emotional for the wronged party.

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TX divorce lawyerWhether an agreement is reached in an out-of-court setting through negotiation, or as the result of litigation and a court order, the terms of any finalized divorce decree must be followed. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one of the parties to refuse to comply with certain terms, especially in regards to property division. In these situations, courts can step in and enforce a property settlement following divorce, so if your former spouse is refusing to comply with a court order by failing to turn over certain assets, it is critical to retain an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can help you seek a request for relief from the court.

Enforcing a Temporary Property Division Order

During many divorces, the parties are required to address temporary property-related issues while the divorce is pending, such as: who will retain the family home, who will be responsible for paying certain bills and expenses, and who will cover debts, such as loans, credit cards, and lease payments. To address these matters, a court may issue a temporary order that has some or all of the following effects:

  • Restrains one spouse from damaging or selling certain property;
  • Requires an inventory and appraisal of all community and separate property;
  • Prohibits the parties from wasting marital assets; and
  • Assigns responsibility for certain household expenses and childcare costs.

These temporary orders play a critical role in helping spouses resolve certain issues during divorce, but also provide the grounds for an enforcement action if one spouse fails to comply with the terms. Temporary orders are as legally binding as final orders, so when one party fails to abide by their terms, the court can intervene by transferring liability, ordering eviction, foreclosure, or wage garnishment, or holding the non-compliant party in contempt.

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TX high asset divorce lawyerAlthough ensuring that your assets are secure is one of the most important aspects of any divorce, it is especially true for those with substantial or unique property. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that Texas residents can take to protect their assets, so if you are thinking about filing for divorce, it is critical to speak with an experienced high asset divorce lawyer who can explain your legal options.

Listing Your Assets

One of the most crucial steps that divorcing couples should take is determining which assets belong to whom. This is because Texas is an equitable distribution state, which means that only marital assets must be divided equitably upon divorce. Separate property, or assets that belong to one spouse alone, however, can remain in the sole possession of the original owner. For this reason, providing proof of when and how an asset was purchased is critical to the property division process. In fact, a spouse who can prove that he or she received a particular asset as part of a gift or an inheritance can retain that asset, even if it was obtained during the marriage.

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TX divorce lawyerCouples with significant or diverse assets are often forced to grapple with legal issues that don’t apply in most divorce cases. This can make the divorce process not only more complicated, but also more acrimonious, especially when it comes to valuing the family home, so if you are thinking about filing for divorce and have substantial real estate holdings, you should consider contacting an experienced Round Rock high asset divorce attorney who can ensure that your property is appraised by a qualified expert.

Comparable Sales

For a marital estate to be fairly divided, the value of a couple’s property must be accurately assessed. When it comes to real estate, this usually means that the parties will need to hire an appraiser who can estimate value based on current market conditions and recent sales of comparable properties in the area. When dealing with especially valuable properties, the appraisal process also often includes consideration of additional features of the property in question, which could make it more valuable than other similar properties. Unfortunately, valuing the unique features of a property can be a subjective process. For example, one appraiser may include the value of a swimming pool or a four car garage, but fail to take note of marble countertops or custom kitchen appliances during the appraisal process. For this reason, most couples going through a high asset divorce are encouraged to obtain multiple appraisals to ensure that an accurate number is reached.

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Texas divorce lawyerMany couples who decide to get divorced have not even heard of the acceptance of benefits doctrine and so don’t know that it could play a significant role in their divorce proceedings. According to this doctrine, litigants are not permitted to accept the benefits of a property settlement and then later decide to challenge it. The only exception to this rule is when the litigant can provide proof that the ruling should be overturned due to special circumstances. This is a difficult task, so if you formerly accepted a property settlement, but later decided to challenge it, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced Round Rock high asset divorce attorney who can explain your legal options.

What Is the Acceptance of Benefits Doctrine?

Just last year, the Texas Supreme Court grappled with the acceptance of benefits doctrine in the case of Kramer v. Kastleman, which involved a couple who had signed a property settlement agreement prior to their divorce. The judge later orally approved the agreement and granted a divorce, although he didn’t issue a written decree until almost a year later. However, before the written decree was issued, the wife rescinded her earlier agreement to the settlement, arguing that her former husband coerced her signature and so committed fraud.

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Texas divorce lawyerCouples who divorce in Texas must divide their assets on an equitable and fair basis. This includes bank account funds, vehicles, real estate, personal property, retirement funds, and even debt. However, property division can become difficult when a diverse range of assets are involved. For example, many high asset divorces involve the division of stock options, which are divisible in some, but not all situations. If you own stock options and are concerned about how or if they will be divided upon divorce, please contact an experienced Cedar Park high asset divorce attorney who can explain your options.

Separate Property Calculations

Like any other type of property owned by a couple, stocks can be divided during divorce, but only if they are considered marital property. If, for instance, a spouse owned stock as separate property prior to the marriage, he or she could retain sole ownership of those stocks. However, this only applies if the spouse participates in a stock option plan that is provided by their employer and the option or stock was granted before the marriage, but needed to continuously remain employed during the marriage before the option could be exercised. In these cases, the spouse’s interest will be equal to the fraction of the option in which the numerator is the sum of:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_mediation_20180311-212328_1.jpgDividing marital assets can be one of the most contentious issues in a Texas divorce, especially when a significant amount of money is at stake. In many cases, couples must resort to litigation and have a judge issue an order directing them as to how their assets should be divided. Litigating a divorce in court can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining, so it is important for couples to remember that it is possible to avoid litigation completely and reach a fair settlement through mediation. This option allows couples to maintain more control over the terms of their final arrangement, while also saving them time and money. For more information on whether mediation is right for you, please contact one of our Georgetown high asset divorce attorneys at your earliest convenience.

Property Division Settlement

Mediation offers divorcing couples an environment where they can work through divorce-related issues respectfully. These conversations are facilitated by a neutral third party who can help keep the parties on track, remind them of their goals, and ensure that emotion does not derail proceedings. There are other benefits to choosing mediation for a high asset divorce including the following:

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8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Building 2, Suite 2105, Austin, TX 78759