When one spouse controls the finances, he or she has the opportunity to use community assets to the benefit of separate property. The other spouse may challenge the disposition of those funds during a Texas divorce. The spouse in control of the finances has a fiduciary duty to the other spouse during the course of the marriage.
A Texas appeals court recently considered whether a husband was required to reimburse the community estate for certain expenditures. The trial court awarded the wife the majority of the community estate and ordered the husband to reimburse it for certain expenditures. The husband appealed, arguing the evidence did not support the disproportionate division and some of the amounts he was ordered to reimburse.
The husband had entered the marriage a wealthy man with several businesses. The wife alleged he allowed his separate companies to keep funds he should have received. Since his businesses were S corps, he was personally responsible for paying taxes on the funds, even if they were not distributed. The wife sought reimbursement for the undistributed funds and for the income taxes paid from the community estate. Each party presented expert testimony. The wife’s expert calculated that the estate had paid $1,000,742 in taxes for the separate companies and was entitled to reimbursement. The husband’s expert said he did not agree the wife had a valid claim for reimbursement and presented his own calculations, showing $841,108 was paid. The jury found the community estate had paid $841,108 in income taxes for the husband’s separate businesses. The trial court included that amount in the valuation of the reconstituted community estate.