Texas is a community property state, which requires that spouses going through a divorce make a just and right distribution of marital property. For most couples, this means making an equal split of the value of all marital assets and debts; however, in certain situations, the Texas family court can award a disproportionate share of the marital estate to one spouse if the other perpetrated fraud prior to or during the divorce. At the office of Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner, we have zealously advocated for clients who have been defrauded by their spouse and can help you get the distribution of marital assets you deserve in your Texas divorce.
Fraud as a Cause for Disproportionate Distribution
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that fraud in a marriage is defined as “a wrong committed by one spouse which may be considered by the trial court in its division of the community estate and which may justify a disproportionate division.” As a result, one spouse in a Texas divorce can request a disproportionate amount of the marital estate if the other spouse committed fraud during the course of the marriage. In addition, if the fraud was so severe that the remaining community property assets are not enough to offset the fraud, the requesting spouse can also be awarded a money judgment to make up for the loss.
There are two types of fraud that a spouse can commit in a Texas divorce case. The first type is actual fraud, where one spouse commits dishonesty with the intent to deceive the other spouse to prevent that spouse from the use and enjoyment of property. Actual fraud is alleged often in situations in which a third party, such as a girlfriend or relative, has helped to hide assets from one spouse prior to or during a divorce. The second type of fraud is constructive fraud, which refers to a waste of assets or breach of fiduciary duty between spouses. Each spouse has a fiduciary duty to the other during the marriage to not waste marital assets or dispose of the other spouse’s interest in community property without that spouse’s consent. There is a presumption of fraud in a Texas divorce case when one spouse disposes of the other spouse’s interest in marital assets without that spouse’s knowledge or consent.
Fraud can occur in many different ways before and during divorce proceedings. Some of the most common examples of fraud in a marriage include spending marital assets on presents and expenses for infidelities, hiding assets when a divorce is imminent or filed, selling or transferring assets to avoid their inclusion in the community property estate, and accumulating significant debt right before a divorce with the assumption that your spouse will have to pay for half. An experienced divorce attorney can review the facts of your case to determine whether your spouse committed fraud and if you are entitled to a disproportionate share of the community property estate.
Call or Contact Our Office Today
To learn more about the distribution of marital assets and whether you might be entitled to a disproportionate share of the community property estate in your Texas divorce case, call or contact one of our expert divorce attorneys at Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner today.