Articles Posted in Divorce

When dividing property in divorce proceedings, courts will distinguish between separate property and community property. Separate property represents any property or assets that one person has held since before they were married. Conversely, community property constitutes property or assets shared between spouses. Typically, only community property is subject to division among the former spouses. Texas courts presume that property either spouse possesses during marriage or upon the end of the marriage is community property. To overcome this presumption, a spouse must present clear and convincing evidence that they held the property separately. A recent decision from the Texas Supreme Court shows the importance of presenting adequate evidence of separate property to avoid division following a divorce.

Facts of the Case

As the Texas Supreme Court opinion explains, the Wife filed for divorce after 14 years of marriage. At trial, the Husband presented evidence that two investment accounts in his name existed before his marriage. Specifically, an expert witness testified that the Husband did not mix his accounts with community property. The expert further testified about a four-month gap in the investment statements he received. However, he concluded that the missing statements did not detract from the “established pattern of activity” over 15 years. Agreeing with the expert, the trial court found that the accounts were the Husband’s separate property, meaning they were not subject to division.

The Wife appealed, and the appeals court reversed. First, it found “no evidence” of what happened during those four months. Based on this gap in the record, it found that the Husband’s expert could not rely on an “established pattern” of account activity to adequately characterize accounts as separate property. Therefore, it reversed that portion of the trial court’s decision and sent the case back to divide the account balances. The Husband appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

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The process of finalizing a divorce can involve significant time and emotional energy. When the parties finally receive a divorce decree, the last thing they want is to come back to court. Unfortunately, a spouse may have to seek court enforcement of the decree if his or her former spouse does not abide by its terms. Under Texas law, it is important that the trial court solely enforces the decree rather than altering its terms. A recent Texas appellate court decision demonstrates the importance of sticking to the precise terms of a final divorce decree.

According to the facts discussed in the opinion, this case concerned a trial court’s authority to award property in a way that contradicted the terms of a divorce decree. Previously, the trial court had signed a divorce decree stating that each spouse would receive 50% of proceeds from the sale of the parties’ marital property and certain personal property. The decree also provided for damages against a non-compliant party. Specifically, the decree mandated damages, including redistribution of assets, if a party failed to timely turn over an asset awarded to the other party. If a spouse did not turn over any asset, the spouse would receive a reduced portion of proceeds from the sale of the couple’s marital home. Over two years later, the Wife filed a motion for enforcement of the decree after accusing the Husband of not paying Wife for her share of assets. The trial court granted the Wife’s motion for enforcement, finding that the Husband violated the decree by failing to deliver property to the Wife or delivering property in damaged condition. Accordingly, the court awarded the Wife damages per the terms of the decree. The trial court specifically awarded the Wife the full market value of their marital property, which the decree would otherwise split between the parties.

The appeals court reversed. Under Texas divorce law, a court cannot change the division of property in a divorce decree. The Wife argued that the trial court simply applied the damages provision from the decree. However, the appeals court concluded that the trial court went beyond the decree. Specifically, the trial court awarded the entire fair market value of the marital property rather than awarding damages proportionate to the Husband’s failure to deliver the property. Moreover, the action went beyond the trial court’s authority. Texas only permits courts to modify a final judgment up to thirty days after the judgment. The appeals court found that the trial court essentially modified its judgment granting the divorce decree. In this case, the trial court awarded the entire marital property value to the Wife over two years after the decree, which exceeded its legal authority. Therefore, the appeals court struck down the trial court’s order and dismissed the case.

Typically, divorce decrees award certain items of property to each spouse. The terms of a decree are final, but a court can enforce them after entering the decree. If one spouse fails to turn over property awarded to the other spouse, the court often must enforce the decree by requiring the spouse to transfer the property. In a recent Texas appeals court opinion, the court handled a petition to enforce a decree involving several items of personal property.

According to the facts discussed in the opinion, the Husband appealed a trial court’s partial denial of his petition to enforce the parties’ divorce decree. The decree awarded the Husband patio furniture, dining room furniture, and bronze statues from the marital home. The dispute arose when the Husband sought to recover the furniture, which he claimed was still in the Wife’s possession. At the trial court hearing, the Husband presented evidence of a check he wrote for the patio furniture and photographs of the furniture. The Wife admitted she took some outdoor furniture from their marital home, but she explained that it was not the Husband’s patio furniture but rather items she received before their marriage. In support, the court-appointed receiver testified that the Wife delivered the patio furniture to the Husband and kept her separate outdoor furniture. The Wife then confirmed she never returned the dining room furniture because she had sold it. The Wife also testified that she had not handed over the statues. The trial court granted the Husband’s petition with respect to the bronze statues but denied it with respect to the patio and dining room furniture.

On appeal, the Husband argued that the trial court abused its discretion by partially denying his petition for clarification and enforcement regarding the furniture. The appeals court upheld the district court’s decision with respect to the patio furniture. As the court explained, there was sufficient evidence to conclude the Wife no longer possessed it. The appeals court cited the Wife’s testimony that the other outdoor furniture was her separate property. They also credited the receiver’s testimony that the Wife returned the Husband’s patio furniture. However, the appeals court found that the trial court abused its discretion with respect to the dining room furniture. According to the court, there was insufficient evidence that the Wife returned the furniture. In fact, the Wife admitted she possessed the furniture before ultimately selling it. Therefore, the appeals court partially affirmed and partially reversed, sending the case back to the district court to enforce the decree.

One of the largest issues in Texas child custody and divorce law is that of child support. The State of Texas has an interest in having each resident child enjoy the financial support of both parents and child support laws are designed to facilitate the fair division of child-rearing expenses between a child’s legal parents. If one party refuses to pay the amount of allotted support, a Texas court can compel that party to sell or surrender other valuable property to the court in lieu of the child support payments. The Texas Court of Appeals recently released a ruling that denied a party a significant offset to his child support arrearages based on out-of-state property that was subject to a receivership appointment.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published opinion, the parties had been a married couple with children who divorced in 2015. As part of the divorce ruling, the father was ordered to pay monthly child support to the mother. After the father failed to pay the ordered support, the mother sought an order in a Texas family court to force the father to sell property in Maine that he had previously inherited. The Texas court appointed a receiver to manage the liquidation or transfer of the property to the Mother. A receiver refers to an individual or entity appointed by a court to take control of and manage certain aspects of the property. The appointment of a receiver is typically done to protect the interests of one or more parties involved in the property dispute.

In this case, the receiver failed to immediately find the property in Maine, and no further action was taken until the particular property was sold at a foreclosure auction based on the owner’s failure to pay property taxes. After nothing was gained from the receiver appointment, the Other approached the court to get a money judgment against the father for the amounts still owed. The father challenged the debt, arguing at trial and on appeal that he should be credited for the value of the Maine property, even though it was ultimately lost before the receiver or Mother was able to take possession of the property. The appellate court rejected the Father’s arguments, holding that any fault on the receiver’s part was not that of the Mother and that the child support debt remained valid and enforceable. The father was not granted an offset and will be required to pay his arrears in full.

Divorce in Texas is a challenging process, often marked by emotional turmoil and complex legal proceedings. When divorce becomes entwined with issues of domestic violence, the situation becomes even more daunting. Texas law is designed to protect the safety of victims of domestic violence while ensuring that alleged perpetrators of such violence are afforded due process while the court addresses the allegations. In this blog post, we delve into the details of one recently decided appellate case and explore the complex interplay between divorce and domestic violence protective orders in Texas.

The case in question revolved around a divorce that was filed in 2020. At the time of filing for divorce, the couple had been married for over three years and had a one-year-old daughter. After the man filed for divorce, the woman filed a counterpetition and sought a protective order for herself and her daughter, alleging that the husband had been violent to the wife and their daughter during the marriage.

The protective order hearing spanned six days, during which multiple witnesses provided testimony. The court also reviewed photos of injuries allegedly suffered by the victim. After the hearing, the court issued a final protective order in favor of the woman, making specific findings that the husband had committed family violence, was likely to commit it in the future, and had caused serious bodily injury. The protective order was set to last for eighteen years.

Divorce in Texas is a challenging and emotionally charged process that often involves complex legal agreements. Most divorces end without a trial, with the parties often agreeing to a stipulation in mediation. Divorce stipulations and settlement agreements may not always be entirely clear, and enforcement of the agreements often relies on alternative interpretations of the same agreement. The Texas Court of Appeals recently ruled on a case that involved competing interpretations of the same divorce settlement agreement.

In the legal world, divorce agreements are seen as binding contracts between the parties involved. These agreements serve to demarcate the respective obligations and rights of each party, allowing them to strike the deal they choose to strike voluntarily. This principle underscores the significance of clarity and precision when drafting divorce agreements. Parties must ensure that their agreements are explicit, leaving no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation.

In the recently decided appellate opinion, the court examined a divorce agreement that centered around the division of a marital residence. The crux of the issue revolved around the date at which the property’s value would be assessed for the purpose of division. One party wished for the appraisal to be made on the date of the entry of the agreement, whereas the other party disagreed since property values had fluctuated dramatically since the agreement was reached. The agreement itself did not specify a particular date for the appraisal.

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Going through a divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged experience. When seeking legal guidance, it’s essential to make the most of your initial meeting with a Forney divorce attorney. Adequate preparation ensures that you can maximize your time together, gain clarity on the process, and set realistic expectations.

At the Forney, TX, divorce law firm of Guest & Gray, we help clients through the process of getting a divorce. Like many divorce attorneys, we provide free consultations to all prospective clients and want our initial meeting to provide you with all the information you need. So, in this blog post, we will provide you with valuable tips on how to prepare for your first meeting with one of our divorce lawyers, that way, we can provide you with meaningful advice to guide your decision-making.

Compile Essential Documents

For many couples, navigating the intricacies of divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. This is especially true when international elements are involved, as matrimonial and divorce laws vary worldwide, and may interfere with due process or other U.S. Constitutional rights if they are strictly enforced without scrutiny. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of how a Pakistani divorce decree could be recognized and enforced in Texas.

According to the facts discussed in the recently decided appellate opinion, the central question of the case revolved around the recognition of a divorce certificate obtained in Pakistan in the state of Texas. The case highlights the complexity that arises when foreign legal systems intersect with Texas family law. The appellant in the Texas case initiated divorce proceedings in Pakistan and obtained a divorce certificate. However, her former spouse, the appellee, challenged the validity of the divorce. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld the divorce certificate, effectively dissolving the marriage between the parties.

The Texas court was tasked to decide how the principle of comity applies to the foreign decree, specifically whether it should grant comity to the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the divorce certificate. Comity suggests that courts should give respect and recognition to the legal decisions of foreign jurisdictions. In opposition to the comity request, the appellant argued that she was not afforded due process during the divorce proceedings in Pakistan, as she was not personally served and received notice only five days prior to the divorce through publication in a local circular. Due process is a fundamental aspect of legal proceedings, both domestically and internationally.

Divorce is often portrayed as an acrimonious and bitter process, but what if you and your spouse have managed to maintain a cordial relationship throughout your separation? While it’s commendable that you can still get along, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need a Forney divorce lawyer to ensure that your interests remain protected.

At Guest & Gray, we’ve seen many situations where couples start off the divorce process on fairly good terms but end up in a contentious situation due to the emotional challenges of navigating the process without legal representation. In this blog post, we’ll explore why enlisting an attorney’s help is essential, even in amicable divorces.

Objective Guidance and Advice

A Forney divorce lawyer serves as an impartial professional who can provide objective guidance and advice. At Guest & Gray, our attorneys possess a deep understanding of divorce laws, ensuring that you are aware of your rights, entitlements, and responsibilities. We can help you navigate complex legal processes, including property division, child custody arrangements, and spousal support. Their expertise ensures that you make informed decisions that protect your long-term interests, even if the separation remains amicable.

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When a marriage ends, one of the most pressing concerns is the financial well-being of both spouses. In Texas, spousal support, also known as alimony, can play a crucial role in providing economic stability during and after a divorce. In this blog post, our Forney divorce lawyers will delve into the key aspects of spousal support laws in Texas, shedding light on eligibility, the factors a court will consider, and the different types of spousal support.

Eligibility for Spousal Support

In Texas, eligibility for spousal support depends on various factors. The court may award spousal support if the spouse seeking support lacks enough property or income to provide for their reasonable needs after the divorce. Additionally, the court considers several other aspects, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the spouses, the earning capacity of each spouse, and any marital misconduct that may have occurred.

Factors Considered by the Court

When determining the amount and duration of spousal support, the court takes several factors into account. These factors include the financial resources available to both spouses, the education and employment skills of each spouse, the time needed for the spouse seeking support to acquire sufficient education or training, and the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, both financially and as a homemaker. The court also considers the separate property owned by each spouse and any child custody arrangements.

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