Texas is a community property state and, generally speaking, that means when parties are divorced the judge divides the assets and debts between them and they have no further obligation to one another. Of course, if there are plenty of assets, that approach works fine. However, if one of the parties is a “bad guy” and uses community money for wrongful purposes (for example, paying for a girlfriend’s apartment and car) there may not be much in the way of assets to divide.

The most recent changes to the Family Code address the problem of “fraud” committed by a spouse that results in the reduction of the community property owned by the parties. If a party proves that the other spouse diverted assets or in some other fashion committed fraud that caused the marital estate to decrease, the judge can assist the spouse who has been harmed. The statute allows the judge to figure out how much damage the fraud has created and compensate the injured spouse by giving that party more of the existing property or a judgment against the bad guy or both.

Unfortunately, the judge cannot manufacture money to compensate a spouse who has been harmed by an irresponsible mate, but the revised law gives the judge a few more tools to remedy the wrong than previously existed.