In a Texas divorce, there are multiple facets of the case that depend upon determining the full value of the assets which spouses acquire during their marriage. A judge must know how much the entire marital estate is worth before issuing an order divvying up property and deciding whether an award for spousal support is appropriate. Therefore, if one spouse is concealing assets to avoid having them factor into asset division or alimony, it is not possible to enter a final divorce decree that is fair and equitable for both parties. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets under these circumstances, state law does provide options for bringing this property properly before the court. An experienced Galveston, TX divorce lawyer can tell you more about your legal options, and some general information may be useful.
Texas Procedural Rules on Discovery
The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure apply to all civil cases in the state, including divorce proceedings. Just as you could use these rules to obtain information from the other party in a personal injury or breach of contract case, you can take advantage of them to find hidden assets. Available tools include:
- Requests for Production of Documents: Through your attorney, you can request that your spouse produce all documents related to real estate or personal property. Paperwork such as deeds, bank statements, federal and state tax returns, business interest, and other documents may reveal the existence of assets. Once you identify these items, you can bring them before the judge.
- Written Interrogatories: This method allows you to ask your spouse questions, in writing, that are likely to lead to discovery of real and personal property. You can then ensure that these items are included in the marital estate.
- Oral Depositions: You can request a party to a divorce case to appear for an in-person interview session, where your attorney asks questions about income, marital property, and related matters. An oral deposition takes place before a certified court reporter who records the proceedings, so you can use the statements to find concealed property.
Penalties for Hiding Assets or Dishonesty in Discovery
Interrogatories and oral depositions require the responses of your spouse to be sworn to under oath, which is the equivalent of testifying in court. There are severe penalties for providing inaccurate, misleading, or dishonest answers to questions. In a divorce case, a party who commits fraud will be ordered to return the assets so they can be considered in determining property division and spousal support. Plus, the party could be ordered to pay a fine or the legal fees related to uncovering the concealed assets.
Discuss Hidden Assets with an Experienced Galveston, TX Divorce Lawyer
As you can see, Texas law provides you with powerful tools to discover hidden property and wrongdoing in a divorce case. Our attorneys at Tad Nelson & Associates have high-level skills in all aspects of divorce law, but we also have comprehensive knowledge of these discovery rules to ensure fairness in your case. Please contact us today at (281) 280-0100 or online to schedule a consultation at our Galveston, TX office.