Texas Appeals Court Affirms Disproportionate Property Division

The court in a Texas divorce must make a just and right division of the marital estate.  The estate does not have to be equally divided if there is a reasonable basis in the record for an unequal division.  A former husband recently challenged, for the second time, the property division in his divorce.

The First Appeal

In his first appeal, the husband argued the trial court erred in its property division by including the value of a condominium that he claimed belonged to his father.  The appeals court concluded the condominium belonged to the husband, wife, and the husband’s father and that the trial court had erred in including its total value in the community estate.  The appeals court determined including only the two spouses’ interest in the valuation of the community estate would materially affect the property division, it remanded to the trial court for a just and right division.

The trial court signed an order on remand that stated its original community property division was just and right.  Furthermore, the trial court awarded the wife appellate attorney’s fees.

Disproportionate Division

The husband appealed again, challenging both the property division and the attorney’s fees.

The parties’ marital assets were worth $404,405.93.  The trial court awarded the wife assets totaling  54% of the marital estate and the husband assets totaling 46% of the marital estate.  The husband argued this difference was an abuse of discretion.  The appeals court pointed out most of the additional value awarded to the wife was from the division of real property.  There were two pieces of real property in the marital estate: the marital residence with a net community value of $113,308.45 and the jointly owned condominium with a net community value of $87,333.33.  The residence was awarded to the wife and the community estate’s interest in the condominium was awarded to the husband.

A trial court may consider the nature of the property in making its just and right division. In this case, there were two pieces of real property and the court awarded one to each spouse.  The appeals court concluded there was a reasonable basis for the award of the condominium to the husband because his father owned a third of it.  Additionally, the trial court found the wife took care of the children most of the time.  The appeals court concluded this commitment also provided the trial court a reasonable basis to make a slightly disproportionate division in favor of the wife.  The appeals court found no abuse of discretion because there was a reasonable basis in the record for an unequal division.

The appeals court determined that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to award attorneys’ fees more than sixty days after the husband had filed notice of appeal, so it reversed and vacated the portion of the order awarding attorneys’ fees to the wife.  It otherwise affirmed the divorce decree.

Seek Guidance from an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney

A Texas property division does not have to be exactly equal as long as it is equitable.  The facts of this case provided a reasonable basis for a disproportionate property division.  Whether a Courts may consider a number of factors in dividing the marital estate, including differences in the parties’ ages, their physical condition, their earning capacities, their relative financial condition, the value of their separate estates, and the nature of the property.  Whether a disproportionate division is appropriate will depend on the particular facts and circumstances of the case.  If you are facing a divorce with significant assets, a skilled Texas divorce attorney can review the facts and help you pursue the best legal outcome based on the facts of your case.


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