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Dividing assets in a community property state

In a community property state like Texas, during a divorce, property acquired after marriage is usually considered shared property and will be divided 50/50. A woman who was getting a divorce in California, also a community property state, was concerned about her 401(k) and her home since her husband said he wanted half the 401(k) and the home. For about a decade, the woman had been the main breadwinner.

While the husband would most likely be entitled to half the 401(k) in a community property state even if he did not contribute to it, he would probably not get the home. This would be divided 50/50 between the couple along with other assets.

The woman was dealing with other issues as well. The man was sharing sensitive information about their finances with his sister, and the woman believed he was concealing assets. Battling with her husband about him sharing her information would probably be more costly than it would be worth. However, a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney might put a stop to it. The courts generally disapprove of the concealment of assets. So even if a person cannot open his or her spouse's mail, he or she should write down the names of the financial institutions on the envelopes. All verbal and written communication should also be documented.

In a high-asset divorce, someone might employ any number of methods to conceal assets. This could include shell companies, offshore accounts or failing to report income, such as bonuses. However, even if neither spouse is hiding assets, property division could be complex. The first step is to determine what is considered shared marital property. A couple may have a prenuptial agreement, but it could be challenged in court. Finally, dividing an asset like a business could be particularly complicated whether the couples own it together or only one person does.

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