When a couple divorces in Texas, certain situations may arise that could be considered fraud on the community. The Texas Family Code Section 7.009 strongly prohibits this act, and the court can take strong legal action against the fraudster.
Understanding fraud on the community in a divorce
In Texas, fraud on the community is defined as one spouse intentionally misrepresenting or hiding information about their finances to disadvantage the other spouse during a divorce. It also includes unfair acts that affect the marital assets during the marriage. For example, when someone spends a large sum of their salary to fund their affair, gamble, or take their friend (and not their partner) on an expensive vacation.
The moment you tie the knot, your partner has an equal claim to any income you bring in. It doesn’t matter whether they contribute less or nothing at all. So, any action that reduces the size of your community estate without your partner’s permission, involvement, or knowledge is considered fraud.
Consequences of fraud on the community
If fraud on the community is proved, the court can award a greater of the couple’s marital property to the innocent spouse as a way of evening the playing field. The court would reconstitute the estate first, i.e., determine the value of your marital asset if the community fraud had not occurred. Then the innocent spouse will be awarded their share of the marital property from that amount or even more as punishment to the wrongful partner. Additionally, the guilty spouse may be required to pay fines or even face jail time for their actions.
If your spouse is suddenly secretive about their finances, keeps you in the dark about important financial decisions, or hides assets, fraud on the community may be taking place. Your best cause of action would be to gather sufficient evidence such as bank statements, credit card bills, or tax returns to prove their malicious behavior in court.