Complex Property Division Attorneys
Securing What is Important for Your Future.
The division of complex property in Texas may seem complicated, but the right legal team can work through its intricacies and keep it from being overwhelming. A strategic, constructive, and intelligent approach can help you divide assets effectively and efficiently.
All divorces require the division of marital debts and assets, but they may become more involved and require specialized knowledge when a marital estate has complex property issues.
What Makes a Marital Estate Complex?
Complex property division entails marital assets that may include business valuation issues, characterization of separate and community property, commingled property, appreciation of separate property, tracing of assets, closely-held business interests, trust matters, employment benefits, and tax issues, among others.
How is Complex Property Divided During a Divorce in Texas?
The Texas Family Code provides all property owned during the marriage is presumed to be the community property of the parties, and subject to division upon divorce. However, this presumption is rebuttable by showing evidence that certain assets are the separate property of one of the spouses. Separate property is property that was owned by a spouse prior to the marriage or received by gift, devise, or descent. Community property gets divided, whereas separate property is “off the table” for division, and therefore remains with the party who owns it.
Is it Difficult to Prove Separate Property?
The spouse claiming property as separate has the burden to prove its separate nature. Otherwise, the property will be deemed to be community and will be subject to a just and right division. Defining an asset as community or separate property is called characterization.
The standard for proving an asset is separate property is clear and convincing evidence. It is not a preponderance of the evidence, where one side must tip the scales of evidence just slightly in their favor. It is also not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, like one might expect in a criminal trial. It is, however, a heightened subjective standard.
What Documents Do I Need to Prove Separate Property?
The key to proving separate property is documentation and showing a paper trail to trace your separate property. Tracing is the method used when your original separate property has changed form, been exchanged, or sold during your marriage, resulting in you owning different property at the time of divorce.
The idea of tracing is fairly simple. Basically, you are connecting the dots, starting with your original separate property, then through each and every transaction, up until you acquired the property on hand at divorce. By identifying each transaction, you can show that the property on hand was acquired by your original separate property. Which is critical to proving separate property.
In order to prove the characterization of separate property assets when they have been commingled with community funds, a tracing report can be prepared to outline the inflows, outflows, and transfers of funds, and to trace any withdrawals to purchase other assets, to determine each of the community and separate property estates through to the present date. Tracing schedules such as these are commonly used by family law attorneys and forensic CPAs.
What is a Tracing Expert? Do I need one?
Although the idea of tracing is straightforward, the tracing process can be complex depending on a variety of factors such as the number of exchanges, type of exchanges, length of marriage, available documentary evidence, the commingling of separate and community property, and the type of asset. There are also different methods employed by practitioners used to trace assets. Depending on the property at issue, it can be necessary to employ a forensic CPA who can trace the property, create a tracing report, and testify at trial, if necessary.
Do Complex Property Divorces Always Go to Court?
No. A high percentage of 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 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, they can keep the divorce out of the courtroom. At Goranson Bain Ausley, we strive to negotiate and settle cases in order to save our clients the time and money of going to court. If two reasonable, experienced lawyers represent each side, there’s a good chance each party will walk away with an acceptable settlement without ever stepping inside a courtroom.
Why is it Important to Work with a Divorce Attorney Skilled in Complex Property Division?
A capable family law attorney will listen carefully to you to understand your goals, priorities, and concerns. They will assist you in identifying the issues and educate you on how to make informed decisions so you can successfully move forward after divorce. In addition, an attorney with experience in handling complicated property matters will offer the resources of other experts critical to an advantageous outcome, including business valuation experts, financial professionals to assist in characterizing and tracing assets, and auditors to verify financial records and information.
Work with Our Experienced Complex Property Division Attorneys in Texas
Choosing the lawyers of Goranson Bain Ausley is the first step in simplifying complex property division. Over the years, we have managed some of the most complicated divorces in Texas, including those of business owners, high-profile executives, celebrities, professional athletes, and their spouses. Our Austin, Plano, and Dallas family lawyers know the law well in complex property matters. Equally important, they know when to engage independent experts in finance and accounting to investigate questions and strengthen your case. We understand that property often represents the fruits of lifelong achievement and has a wealth of meaning in divorce cases. We manage property division respectfully and conscientiously, not only to secure assets for your future but also to preserve what is most of value to you. Contact us for more information.