The Court of Appeals of Texas reviewed a man’s appeal regarding the property division set out in his final divorce decree. According to the court’s opinion, after 25 years of marriage, the wife filed for divorce and served the man with the process. The wife appeared at court with her attorney; however, the man failed to answer the filing or appear at court. At trial, the judge awarded the wife all of her retirement accounts, half of the husband’s retirement accounts, the parties’ home and all contents, her military identification and identification, and all property in her possession. Five months after the divorce decree and “just and right division” of the parties’ estate, the husband challenged the property division.
Texas family law provides that to prevail on an appeal, the appellant must establish that: they filed the suit within six months of the order, they were party to suit, they did not participate in the hearing that resulted in the judgment, and the error is apparent on the face of the record. In this case, the husband argues that no evidence exists to support a just and right property division of the couples’ estate.
The court reasoned that, generally, if a defendant fails to answer, the failure is taken as an admission of the plaintiff’s factual allegations. However, the rule has limitations in the context of a divorce case. If a divorce defendant fails to answer, the plaintiff must still present evidence to support their demand for property division.
Under the Texas family code, trial courts must order the division of property in a matter that considers each parties’ rights and any children. The division need not be equal; however, there must be a reasonable basis for the decision. In this case, the reporter did not make a record, and the husband was neither present nor represented. Therefore he could not waive making a record. Moreover, the trial court found that the parties entered into a written agreement. However, the husband did not sign the decree and disapproved of its “form and substance.” As such, the property division could not be based upon any settlement agreement. The court affirmed the divorce decree but reversed the portion of the decree diving into the community estate.
Contact an Experienced Texas Property Division Attorney for Help with Your Divorce
If you are contemplating or in the process of a divorce or separation, contact the Texas divorce attorneys at Guest & Gray. The attorneys at our office understand that family law matters often involve complex relationships and dynamics that can enhance decision-making stress. We provide clients with the security to approach these challenges with confidence. Our dedicated team of attorneys provides clients with individualized attention and strategic case preparation to address all parts of their cases. In addiiton to Texas divorce and property division cases, our offices handle Texas adoptions, alimony, child custody, CPS investigations, custody and support modifications, enforcement, grandparent rights, paternity suits, and post-marital agreements. Contact our office at 972-564-4644 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Texas family law attorney on our team.