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Property division prominent in high asset Texas divorce

The property division phase of a high asset divorce can sometimes prove dramatic, usually due to the inherently stressful nature of a marital split. However, when the actual divorce is overshadowed by the specter of a murder-for-hire allegation, the drama can reach distractingly high levels.

A Texas district judge recently granted a divorce to a prominent businessman known for his chain of optical stores and distinctive television advertising. Earlier this year he also became known for his trouble with the law after his wife accused him of hiring someone to take her life.

The former couple's divorce case is now complete; the man's looming criminal trial has not yet begun. Most of the divorce case occurred earlier this winter, but the division of property culminated only recently.

Following the businessman's arrest in 2010, his wife swiftly filed for divorce. According to her attorneys, incriminating conversations between the man and a police informant showed his intention to hire a man to have her killed.

Her ex-husband, however, fired back against these allegations in a recent court appearance in the divorce. According to him, his former spouse left their family for a whole year in order to work as an exotic dancer in another state.

Even without harsh accusations or a solicitation of capital murder charge, the financial aspects of a high asset divorce can be complex, as this case demonstrates.

A jury set forth terms of a 50/50 split of the pair's community property. The man will keep their home, four vehicles including two limousines and two retirement accounts. The woman will keep three vehicles and control of the optical stores. The woman can pursue a court-approved buyout of her former husband's optical business, although she'll need help from a loan to do it. At the time of the trial, the combined value of the business was estimated at over $2 million. In addition, the couple got to divide the combined value of their jewelry, although particular items still belong to their individual owners.

The woman must move out of the family home by July 17 and also has to pay her ex-husband $850,000. Previously, a jury had ordered the man to pay $500,000 in damages to the woman, and the woman was ordered to pay $100,000 in damages to the man. The ex-husband's criminal trial is scheduled to start next month.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Yuchnitz divorce ends in split of assets," Sara K. Smith, July 3, 2012

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

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