Texas Wife Not Awarded Disproportionate Property Division Despite Allegations of Cruelty and Infidelity

A court’s division of property in a Texas divorce must be just and right.  A just and right division does not have to be equal and may be disproportionate in some circumstances, including fault such as adultery or cruelty.  A wife recently challenged a property division in which the trial court did not award her a disproportionate share of the community estate in light of her allegations of adultery and cruelty.

Alleged Cruelty and Infidelity

The wife testified the husband had multiple affairs during the marriage, according to the appeals court’s opinion.  She also testified he had physically abused her.  She said he had beaten her after she had surgery, resulting in her stitches breaking open.  She further testified that he started hitting her again when she came home from the doctor and she got a kitchen knife to defend herself.  She said she held the knife in front of her and “just the point of the knife” cut the husband when he got in her face, but she did not deliberately stab him.  She testified the injury only needed a bandage, but the husband went to the doctor so he could later use it against her.

She testified she did not have any documentation of the husband’s alleged affairs.  She also did not offer any documentation of her alleged injuries.

The husband testified it was the wife who was physically and verbally abusive.  He alleged he had anxiety as a result of her actions.  He testified she harassed him about her “delusions” of his unfaithfulness.  He also testified she harassed his coworkers to the extent it affected his employment.  He denied having any extramarital affairs.  He also denied kicking the wife or pulling her by the hair.  He said she had slapped his face on a few occasions.  He also testified she stabbed him while confronting him about an affair.

The husband’s daughter-in-law testified the wife frequently accused the husband of cheating.  She said the wife once took her to a parking lot to watch for the husband with his girlfriend, but they did not see them.

The trial court ultimately divided the community estate 49% – 51% in favor of the husband.

Appeal of the Property Division

The wife appealed, arguing the overwhelming evidence showed the husband was at fault for the break up of the marriage as a result of his cruelty and infidelity.  She argued the trial court erred in not awarding her a disproportionate share of the community property.

The appeals court noted the wife was focused on her own testimony and did not consider the husband’s denial of her accusations.  The appeals court also pointed out that she had “seemingly admitted” some of the husband’s allegations.  The husband had provided corroboration of his own abuse claims.  The trial court determines credibility of the witnesses and may weigh the evidence.  The appeals court could not conclude the property division was manifestly unjust.

Spousal Maintenance

The appeals court did conclude, however, that the trial court erred in granting the husband’s no-evidence motion for summary judgment as to the wife’s spousal maintenance claims.  The appeals court concluded the husband’s motion did not meet the requirement that a no-evidence motion for summary judgment specifically identify the elements without evidence.  Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(i).  It was therefore insufficient as a matter of law.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s property division but reversed and remanded its judgment on spousal maintenance.

Contact a Knowledgeable Dallas Divorce Lawyer

The trial court has broad discretion in dividing the property in a divorce.  In this case, there was conflicting testimony regarding abuse and infidelity.  Because a trial court has such broad discretion, it can be difficult to overturn property division on appeal.  An experienced Texas divorce attorney can help you fight for a fair division of marital property.  Schedule a consultation with McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200.


Contact Information