Can you legally steal from your spouse?
Many complex problems touch on divorce and criminal law when you file criminal charges against your spouse for stealing your belongings or money. You should be aware that you individually cannot file a criminal complaint against your spouse if you are thinking about doing so.
The other spouse may take an asset that one spouse believes to be their personal property during the marriage. The victimized spouse’s ability to accuse the other spouse of theft will rely on various variables. This question is mainly governed by state law. Below are laws from two states in America.
Assets obtained during a marriage in Texas are often considered community property and belong to both spouses. Generally, assets acquired before or after marriage are considered separate property.
In Texas, community property is divided by the court in a “fair and right” manner, which is not always equal. Unbelievably many spouses attempt to conceal assets from their partner and the court to prevent them from being divided and shared with their soon-to-be ex.
According to Texas law, a spouse commits fraud if they transfer community property or spend community money, denying the other spouse access to and enjoying the assets at issue. Such deception entails dishonesty of intent or purpose.
In conclusion, a fair and equitable property division upon divorce serves as a remedy for fraud in the communal estate. However, there is still an individual right of action for a spouse who commits a tortious act that harms the other spouse personally or the spouse’s different estate. Family law practitioners must comprehend recent court rulings, the development of current family law concerns, and the logic behind them.
A person who knowingly obtains retains, or exercises control over anything of value belonging to another person without authority or via threat or fraud is considered to have committed theft in Colorado, according to Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-401(a).
Whether the item, money, or asset purportedly stolen is actually “of another person” arises in many theft lawsuits involving spouses. In general, property that belongs to you cannot be stolen, and in Colorado, most married couples hold property that both partners jointly own.
Regardless of whether or not the couple is currently seeking a divorce, here is where divorce law comes into play. In Colorado Springs, a judge will divide property and assets into two general categories: “marital property” and “separate property,” when deciding how to distribute them following a divorce.
In general, separate property includes the possessions each spouse brought to the marriage and any assets they later received as gifts or heirlooms.
Whatever the couple acquired when they were married counts as marital property, even if it increased in value or appreciated while they were still living apart.
If the allegedly stolen property is “marital property,” the spouse who takes possession of it or forbids the other spouse from accessing it is not technically committing theft because it is their property.
9 Factors to consider when Sueing a spouse for theft
Before using a spouse for theft, one has to ensure that stealing was carried out; below are the factors that would assist in concluding that robbery did take place;
People could believe that something is their property rather than the other spouse’s, mainly if they utilize it solely. The court will, however, consider the item’s legal standing. In states with community property, each spouse is deemed to own an equal share of all money made and assets amassed during the marriage.
The owner of an asset is typically identified by the asset’s title in normal law states. Assets obtained through gifts, inheritance, or the use of finances from a prior relationship and retained apart from the marriage are typically considered independent property in both states.
Agreement for Divorce
A suit for theft or contempt of court may be made if a good separation or divorce agreement designates the property as belonging to the spouse and the other spouse takes it.
A divorce agreement, however, may contain clauses releasing the parties from any claims made during the marriage. If the wronged spouse signed such a release, the court would not be able to hear a declaration of theft.
Immunity of the Spouse
The idea of tort interspousal immunity may affect a claim for theft or fraud, even if it is usually disregarded across the nation. This legal theory developed from the idea that the married relationship consisted of just one individual, usually the male.
According to the law, a husband should not be entitled to sue himself. Additionally, courts hypothesized that a divorce would result in discord in the marital home if couples sued one another. Nevertheless, this immunity has been entirely lost in numerous states. Spouses can bring tort claims against the other spouse in other states, but they must be heard in a divorce case, as is expressly stated in their tort statutes or common law.
Other courts permit such claims throughout the marriage. Others distinguish between negligent torts, such as those resulting from negligence claims, and intentional torts involving battery and conversion.
Detinue and Replevin
Instead of focusing on the value of the property taken, these legal claims try to recover the actual property itself. It is frequently necessary to provide evidence of the aggrieved spouse’s immediate claim to custody, the other spouse’s illegal taking of the property, and the relevant item’s value.
Conversion is a common name for the civil claim that corresponds to the theft offense. A person filing a lawsuit to recover the value of the stolen object is the basis for this kind of claim. Usually, the victim is required to provide proof of property ownership.
If one spouse materially misrepresented the worth of assets or income during the marriage or divorce, allegations of fraud may be made. Imitation may be actual if the perpetrator intended to cheat the other spouse and deny them the right to utilize and enjoy the marital property moderately.
It is also possible to accuse a spouse of constructive fraud, which means that while there was not always malice intended, the spouse should have understood that the conduct would fool the other spouse.
Fraud accusations are typically founded on specific facts and state legislation. In some states, any transfers of marital assets that were unfair to the other partner during the divorce are covered by laws surrounding marital fraud.
Various factors related to the divorce settlement may change if a fraud allegation is successful during or after the final payment. It might affect, for instance, how much spousal support is granted.
Some courts may even transfer the entire worth of the asset that has been concealed or disposed of to the injured spouse rather than treating it as a 50/50 ownership under community property laws.
Victims of such theft may elect to pursue criminal charges against the spouse who mistreated them rather than pursue civil remedies to restore their financial condition. The thieving spouse might be forced to make restitution to the victim as a part of the legal process.
After a divorce, there are a few things a spouse can do to safeguard their assets. For instance, you could order your spouse to avoid your house to prevent the theft of a valuable item or piece of property.
If you tell them this, your spouse may be charged with theft, and they still go inside the house and steal the asset. In some cases, you could try to accuse your spouse of breaking even if you didn’t give your spouse such a warning.
Criminal charges may be pursued against the offending spouse if they take the asset or property to misappropriate and maliciously destroy it.
However, the act may be seen as domestic rather than criminal if the intention was to temporarily deprive the owner’s spouse of their property or asset.
Although it is safe to assume that properties become jointly owned once married, it is very holy to know that such rules only apply to properties that begin to exist during your marriage.
If the allegedly stolen property is “marital property,” the spouse who takes possession of it or forbids the other spouse from accessing it is not technically committing theft because it is their property. However, suppose a spouse steals “separate property” from their spouse. In that case, that action could support a theft charge, and such a spouse can file for a criminal or civil order against the partner who took the mentioned property and is held liable.