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Uncovering financial lies during a Texas divorce

When Houston married couples decide to part ways, spouses are obligated to disclose all financial information before property is split between them. Assets and debts obtained during marriage must be divided according to any earlier legal agreement signed by the couple or according to the guidelines of Texas community property laws.

Do spouses ever lie about the assets they have? Hiding assets that should be categorized as marital property occurs more often than you might believe.

Researchers for the National Endowment for Financial Education learned money was concealed in two-thirds of marriages. That may be surprising to spouses who believe a partner, even during divorce, would never stoop to keeping financial information secret.

Then again, maybe spouses aren’t really that trusting. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported 90 percent of attorneys had clients who used smartphones to find signs of a spouse’s financial dishonesty. Evidence was sought through social media websites and texts.

Spouses can use countless ways to bury assets, from stashing cash in old-fashioned safety deposit boxes to funding personal nest eggs in offshore accounts. Keep in mind, electronic technology now makes it easier than ever before to locate and dig up those hidden accounts and investments.

Some spouses with suspicions of financial foul play take action by using software to tap into a spouse’s GPS unit, smartphone and computer. Sometimes, a simple search of a computer’s browser history will uncover information about secret accounts, concealed investments or in some cases, even a private, alternative financial lifestyle.

Whether this practice of spying on a spouse is legal or harmful to a divorce case should be discussed with an attorney. Improperly-obtained evidence that would be tossed out of court in a marital property dispute sometimes is useful during negotiations for a divorce settlement. It may be a better option to engage a lawyer or forensic accountant to conduct an investigation.