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Specialty tag(s): Complex Property

Complex Property and Divorce: What You Need to Know

Kathryn J. Murphy | January 26, 2021

What classifies property as “complex” in a divorce?

Complex property matters include marital assets that require a special expertise or effort in addressing them. This may include business valuation issues, characterization and tracing of assets, closely-held business interests, trust matters, employment benefits and tax issues among many others.

I’ve heard that divorces with complex property always go to court? Is this true?

No. The great percentage of all divorce cases are settled either in mediation or prior to mediation, and this includes complex property divorce cases. There are many advantages for parties to negotiate a settlement on their own rather than having the judge make the decisions for them. No matter how complicated a divorce is, if both parties are willing to work together and keep the divorce out of the courtroom, it can be done. We work very hard to negotiate and settle our cases to save our clients the time and money it takes to go to court. If you have two reasonable, experienced lawyers representing each side, there’s a good chance each party will walk away with an acceptable settlement without ever stepping inside a courtroom.

Who is most often involved in a divorce with complex property?

Typically couples with high net-worth, those who owned significant property prior to their marriage, and couples who own one or more businesses fall into this category. However, sometimes couples with an average estate can still have complex financial issues or a particular asset between them that requires the expertise of a lawyer with experiencing in addressing complex property.

Do all family law attorneys specialize in complex property divorces?

No, not all family law attorneys have the capabilities and experience to handle complex property matters. Some may say they do, but you want to make sure the attorney you choose has proven experience with these types of cases. Make sure you feel confident after your initial consultation that the attorney has a good reputation and is able to handle whatever complex property issue you bring to the table.

I know for certain my pending divorce will have several complex property issues. What should I do first?

Once you have a good attorney, your attorney will assist you in identifying the issues. You’ll want to make sure the attorney or someone on his or her team has expert knowledge and experience in handling complicated property matters. Your attorney may engage other experts to assist in the evaluation, to testify in court as an expert witness and to work with him or her to devise a creative settlement. These experts may include business valuation experts, financial professionals to assist in characterizing and tracing assets, and experts engaged to audit financial records and verify financial information. Next, you’ll want to start gathering as much information as you can to document your assets so the attorney can analyze the issues.

Learn More

Kathryn J. Murphy is skilled in answering one of the most important concerns clients have about divorce: seeing an efficient, satisfactory end to the process. Her expertise includes cases involving the valuation of a business, closely held business interests, relocation, characterization of property, and premarital agreements. She embraces collaborative law when it is the right fit for clients and brings considerable skills to the courtroom when litigation is deemed necessary.

In 2021, Kathryn was the recipient of one of the most coveted awards in Texas family law – the Sam Emison Award. Each year, this award is bestowed upon one exceptionally distinguished family law practitioner or judge who has demonstrated a significant commitment and made significant contributions to the practice of family law in the State of Texas. A partner of the firm, Murphy has been named to The Best Lawyers in America® for Family Law since 2003, and was named the Best Lawyers© Family Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Dallas in 2015, 2017, and 2019. She has been selected by Thomson Reuters for inclusion in the list of Texas Super Lawyers, Top 50 Women Texas Super Lawyers, Top 100 Texas Super Lawyers, and Top 100 Dallas-Fort Worth Super Lawyers. She has also been selected for inclusion in the list of Best Lawyers in Dallas for family law, Best Personal Lawyers in Dallas, and Best Women Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine.

Murphy is Board Certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists and a Fellow of the prestigious International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the Texas Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers where she is a Past-President.

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