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Property Division and Adult Disabled Child in Texas Divorce Case

handicap signsIn the Matter of Luna and Vicente Luna considered an appeal from a final divorce decree in 2015, which was memorialized in a written decree that granted a couple’s divorce, divided their property, and provided for support and conservatorship of their adult disabled child. The couple had married in 1980 and separated in 2014. During their marriage, the father started a construction company.

By the time of the divorce, the couple disagreed about the company’s ownership. The father claimed he’d sold half of the company to his son, but he later testified the son was an employee earning $23/hr. During cross-examination, the son admitted the name certificate did not include his name until 2015, and his father had responsibility for paying payroll taxes and had authority to write checks.

At trial, the father testified the construction company had paid no federal income taxes, nor had it entered profit and loss statements into the record. The total of the evidence came from introducing banking records for the construction company for 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The mother testified she was a stay-at-home mom whose job was to raise the kids. When the kids reached majority age, her primary concern was to tend to their adult disabled child’s daily needs. She held minimum wage jobs like house cleaning and her income was about $500 per month.

During the marriage, the parties got title to six pieces of real property. Neither spouse claimed the property was separate property. The trial court made orders related to the divorce at the end of the bench trial. Five pieces of property went to the husband, and one piece that was worth more than each of the five pieces, but still worth less than the total of the five pieces awarded to the husband, went to the wife. The construction company was valued at $100,000 and awarded to the husband.

The husband filed a motion for a new trial, arguing only that the disproportionate division of property was unreasonable. The appellate court explained that the trial court had to divide the community property in a way that seemed just and right. Applying this statutory standard meant that the trial court didn’t have to divide the community estate equally but only equitably.

The husband argued there was no evidence to support the valuation of his company at $100,000. The appellate court explained that the wife had submitted bank statements for the company account to prove her sense of what the company was worth. The deposits decreased in 2014, around when the parties separated.

The appellate court also noted that the lower court was entitled to consider the different earning capacities of the parties in making a determination, and the bank records gave the court enough information to value the construction company. Ultimately, the husband received more of the community property than the wife did, once the real estate parcels were factored in. He received about 61% of the marital property, and nothing showed that the trial court would have made a different division by valuing the business less. The judgment was affirmed.

If your divorce involves matters related to property division and child support, contact the Texas attorneys at the McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200.

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