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Orange, Texas High Net Worth and Complex Divorce Lawyer


Regardless of how amicable your pending divorce may seem, when it comes to division of assets, divorce proceedings often become more difficult and complex. The definition of what your spouse deems an “equitable division” may change over the course of the divorce proceedings and may be quite different from what you consider equitable and fair. A divorce involving high net worth individuals can be very complicated and, at times, contentious.

The ownership of assets and any signed agreements must be considered, including but not limited to any pre-marital or post-marital agreements, trusts, trust funds, royalties, retirement accounts, investments and stock options, family businesses, the marital home, vacation homes, and other valuable assets. There is much to be considered and much at stake.

A divorce can be particularly complex when it comes to dividing property between spouses. There are several phases that must be conducted with the utmost attention to detail and knowledge of Texas family law. Texas is a community property state, meaning all property gained during the marriage is presumed to be community (or shared) property. The assets must be identified and then categorized as either community or separate property, which is not always as obvious as it sounds.

Allocating Assets

A divorce attorney experienced in high net-worth or complex divorce may work with expert financial professionals or appraisers to ensure the community property and separate property are fully and properly identified, valued, and divided between divorcing spouses.

The “inception” of title to the property and how the property was acquired may determine whether a particular asset should be categorized as community property or separate property.  Spouses may be able to show that a property is not community property if they can prove they gained title to the property prior to the marriage, under the inception of title rule.  Property may also be shown to be separate property if the property was acquired during the marriage as a gift, even if that gift was from the other spouse.  Devise and descent, or a gift given through a will document may also be determined to be separate property.  In addition, any compensation awarded for a personal injury suffered by one spouse during the marriage is separate property, aside from lost wages accrued during the marriage.  A knowledgeable Orange family law attorney can help you work through the details pertaining to asset and property allocation so you leave the marriage with that which you are entitled to.

Division of Property in a Longer Lasting Marriage

The division of property can be particularly complex when it comes to longer lasting marriages where separate and community assets may be commingled, or even hidden. For example, suppose you purchased several investment properties before your marriage and then you and your spouse both contributed toward renovations or repairs. The use of community and separate properties were commingled and now the division of these assets are not as crystal clear. Your spouse may have the right to argue they should receive value from this asset as community property.

Another example might be if your spouse entered the marriage with a property and your role in the family was to take care of children and the home, allowing your spouse more time to earn income that was used to pay off the property. Does that give you community property rights to the asset? One way to challenge the assumption of community property is through “tracing” an asset. An expert can review the document trail associated with the asset and associated financial accounting documents to determine whether the property is truly separate or community property.

Attorney Jim Sharon will listen to the details of your situation and assist you in determining what may be considered separate property or community property by the court.

Pre-Marital Agreements May Protect You

If you are entering a marriage or are currently married and you have substantial assets, renowned high-asset divorce attorney Jim Sharon Bearden can assist you in drafting a well thought out pre- or post-marital agreement. A pre- or post-marital agreement is drafted to protect assets should you have concerns such assets may be considered community property in the case of dissolution of your marriage.  Attorney Bearden will carefully draft the agreement to minimize potential conflict during a divorce. By discussing potential concerns with your spouse ahead of time you can put your mind at ease. If the marriage does not go as planned you will have avoided spending unnecessary time, money, and heartache to determine separate versus community property.

Trusts Do Not Always Protect Assets from Division During a Divorce

Often, individuals with significant assets and income create trusts to protect and transfer wealth to future generations. Trusts may help avoid tax liabilities and shelter assets from division in the event a beneficiary or settlor of a trust ends his or her marriage. However, trusts do not always protect assets in the event of a divorce. Anyone considering a divorce is well advised to speak with legal counsel to learn the impact a divorce may have on his or her trust. Jim Sharon Bearden can advise you of your options for protecting your assets or for gaining equitable, fair, and just asset allocation. Dividing property subject to a trust is often complex, which is why you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, like Jim Sharon, who can advocate for your interests.

A lower-earning spouse needs to be aware of the possibility that a wealthy or higher-earning spouse may siphon income earned during their marriage and place it into separate trusts, thus depleting and defrauding the community estate. Jim Sharon may discuss with you the benefits of using a forensic accountant if you believe your spouse is hiding assets. Do not try to navigate the complexities of high value asset division without the assistance and guidance of a highly skilled family law attorney. If you have questions and would like to discuss your situation, please contact Jim Sharon today at 409-883-4501.

Consult a Seasoned Orange County, Texas Divorce Lawyer Today

It’s important to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can walk you through your options and help you navigate the challenges ahead with knowledge and skill. To consult with Jim Sharon Bearden about your concerns, please call 409-883-4501 or send an email through our contact form.

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