Failing to respond to a Texas divorce petition can result in a default judgment with an unfavorable property division. What happens, though, if the spouse who received the default judgment fails to take action to enforce the property division for several years? A Texas appeals court recently considered a case involving that issue.
Wife Obtains Default Judgment
The husband bought a home before he met the wife. They refinanced it jointly twice during the marriage. The wife subsequently filed for divorce and obtained a default divorce decree in February 2011. The decree listed the home as community property and stated that the wife owned it alone as separate property and that the court divested “any interest, title, and claim the Husband may have to [it].” The court further ordered the husband to sign any deeds necessary to transfer the property to her. There was a remaining principal of $43,399.14 according to the bank statement for the next month.
The husband testified he had not been served and only found out about the divorce case and default divorce later that year. The wife moved out about four months after the divorce. She stated the husband did not want her to live there and tried to “kick [her] out in a very aggressive way. . .” She claimed “[t]here was a lot of violence. . .” The husband testified the wife would yell at him that the house was hers and she was going to take it from him. He then went to court to see the divorce decree and learned it awarded the house to the wife. He said he could not afford an attorney at the time.