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.
Do You Need an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney?
Obtaining a final divorce decree only provides closure when both parties comply with it. If you are seeking to enforce a divorce decree against your former spouse, it is important to obtain counsel who can advocate for the property to which the decree entitles you. The experienced Texas family law attorneys at Guest and Gray can assist you in finalizing the terms of your divorce decree and ensuring the court enforces them. Our family law attorneys represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including in divorce proceedings. Through our skills and experience, we will fight for you to receive the property most important to you after a divorce. To schedule a no-obligation consultation today, contact our office at 972-564-4644.