Overseas Investments & Assets
Division of Foreign Property in a Texas Divorce
In an increasingly globalized world, everything from the products we purchase and properties we own to even the partners we marry can have ties to another country. Though investments, assets, and connections abroad aren’t a bad thing, they can make for additional challenges during divorce.
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C., our divorce and family law team has represented clients across Houston and beyond, many of whom had financial connections in foreign countries. As a firm experienced in matters of complex property division and high asset divorce, we’re positioned to handle these challenging issues and their implications on the division of debts and assets.
Questions about dividing marital property outside the U.S. during a Texas divorce? Call (713) 909-7323 to speak with a Houston attorney.
Overseas Assets & Texas Property Division
In Texas, spouses have flexibility in devising solutions for how their shared assets will be divided in divorce. Generally, this requires characterizing assets and debts as either community or separate property, performing asset tracing and valuation, and pursuing a resolution through negotiation (if spouses can strike compromise) or litigation (if they can’t, or shouldn’t).
That very basic guideline for property division looks different in every divorce, especially when there are complexities involved – whether it’s a dispute over separate property, spouse hiding assets or the simple fact that a spouse owns property in more than one country.
Examples of common overseas assets in divorce:
- Real estate, vacation homes, and generational land
- Businesses or corporate ownership interests
- Stock options and retirement benefits with foreign brokers
- Offshore bank accounts
Dividing Multi-Jurisdictional Marital Property
How these and other foreign assets are divided in divorce will depend on a number of factors, including the nature and location of international property. While every case is unique, there are some general issues and challenges to understand:
- Valuation – Determining the value of an asset can be a challenge in any divorce, and especially so if it’s located in another country. The production of documents and other evidence during the discovery phase (which can vary by country as well) can help with both asset characterization and asset valuation (think bank statements for a foreign investment account, records from banks showing the use of marital funds to improve an overseas home, or business records for a U.S. or foreign business which earns income abroad). In some cases, appraisals and assistance from valuation experts can help with determining an asset’s worth, especially for business owners and others with unique holdings.
- Real Estate & Businesses – Typically, real estate is subject to the laws of where it’s located, and to some degree local laws may impact the division of business assets. That not only introduces tax implications, but also varying procedures for producing documents and filing requests or submissions with local government, conducting appraisals with the use of approved / designated officials, and complying with other various laws of the (wherever-it-may-be) land.
- Personal Property – Unlike real estate, personal property like artwork, bank accounts, and stocks are generally governed by the laws of the jurisdiction where the owner of the property resides. If you live in Texas and have an investment portfolio abroad, for example, you’re still subject to taxes in the U.S., and, if they’re community property, will be subject to division under Texas law.
Even after addressing the many nuances of characterizing and valuing international assets, and doing so in according to any special laws and procedures of a foreign country, spouses will still need to work on reaching a resolution. As with any divorce, there are options for dividing property, as well as some unique considerations when property is located abroad. Examples include:
- Filing for divorce in Texas and the country where property is located, so Texas can divide what it can, and the country abroad what falls within its jurisdiction (i.e. real estate);
- Have a Texas court compel property division, which is usually achieved indirectly by imposing requirements on a spouse that would effectuate division / transfer of assets (i.e. an injunction to prevent the sale of a foreign asset during divorce, a court order for a spouse to sign a deed, or a qualified domestic relations order (QRDO) to divide retirement accounts);
- Seeking a disproportionate award, where the value of assets abroad are taken into account when dividing and distributing what community property there is in Texas.
Proven Representation from Houston Property Division Attorneys
Just because you or a spouse own assets abroad does not mean it can’t be divided or taken into account during your Texas divorce. However, handling the many complexities of dividing international property, and reaching a resolution in your best interests, is a challenging task that requires the support of experienced attorneys who know how to protect what’s yours.
Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C.’s divorce and family law team is helmed by nationally recognized Houston attorneys and a Board Certified Family Law Specialist (Lennea Cannon, TX Board of Legal Specialization). Our collective insight, resources, and work in other related areas of law (business litigation, real estate, oil & gas, etc.) has helped many clients navigate complex divorce proceedings.
Learn how our firm can help. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.