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Hidden assets: Some marital property may not be obvious

There are many types of marital property, including some obscure items that may be eligible for division in a divorce case.

Property division can be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process. Texas is a community property state, which means that all marital property is presumptively separated equally between spouses. While couples are required to disclose all information regarding their property and assets during a divorce case, some people may try to hide certain items from their spouse and from the divorce settlement. Furthermore, certain items may get overlooked, and therefore not included in the settlement at all. In order to ensure couples are getting everything they are entitled to, it is important to understand what types of property and assets are considered marital.

Community property basics

When people think about community property, family homes, vehicles, furniture and money contained in a savings and/or checking account may come to mind. Other assets, such as 401k plans, stock options, certain life insurance policies and tax refunds are also considered marital assets that are eligible for division in a divorce.

Other items to consider

According to Forbes, expensive art, coin or car collections that were acquired during the marriage may be divided in a divorce settlement, even if the collection primarily belonged to one spouse or the other. Community property may also include the following non-traditional items:

  • Exclusive memberships to country clubs and/or golf courses
  • Lottery winnings
  • Assets derived from copyrights, royalties, patents and trademarks
  • Air miles or other program reward points
  • Cemetery plots

Exceptions to the rule

There are some exceptions when it comes to marital property. For example, if one party had an art collection prior to the marriage and the property is listed in only his or her name, it may be considered separate and could be exempt from division. An inheritance received by either party before, during or after the marriage is also separate property, as long as the money remains solely in the recipient’s name. If the inheritance money becomes deposited into an account that has both spouses names attached, it may become so commingled that it becomes community property and can therefore be distributed between spouses in a divorce.

Understanding your rights

When you decide to terminate your marriage in Texas, you have certain legal options and rights. Although you are able to file for divorce without obtaining legal representation, you may want to speak to an attorney in order to gain a full understanding of what you are entitled to.

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