The court in a Texas divorce case must divide property in a just and right way. This does not necessarily mean that property is divided equally between the parties, but the division must be just. What happens, though, when only one party participates in the divorce proceedings? A Texas appeals court recently found that the trial court had to have sufficient evidence of the property values to divide the property justly.
The husband petitioned for divorce, but the wife did not answer or appear at the hearing. The husband testified that there were two vehicles and a mobile home in the community estate. He asked the court to award all of the property to him, but allow the wife to keep the property in her possession. He did not testify or provide evidence of the value of the property. The court granted the divorce and awarded the husband the vehicles, the mobile home, furnishing, and other goods and cash in his possession and control. The court did not award any property to the wife.
The wife filed notice of a restricted appeal. To succeed on a restricted appeal, she had to show that she filed the notice within six months of the decree, she was part to the lawsuit, she did not participate in the hearing or file post-judgment motions or requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law, and error is apparent on the face of the record. She clearly met the first three requirements, so the appeals court had to determine if there was error.