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Findings of Fact and Waiver in Texas Divorce

In a Texas divorce case, failure to follow the required procedures can result in the loss of property.  Parties should take care to identify all of the property that needs to be divided.  Additionally, if the court fails to address certain property in its findings, then the party must follow the appropriate procedures or may risk waiving that issue, as occurred in a recent case.

The parties married in 2007 and the husband filed for divorce in 2014.  He had been in the dairy business for many years and owned several properties at the time of the marriage.  The dairy sold milk and the court entered a temporary order granting the wife the proceeds from the “milk store” instead of spousal support.  She received a total of about $27,000 while the divorce was pending.  The wife agreed the husband bought some of the properties, including the dairy, before the marriage.

The wife appealed the property division.  She sought reimbursement for half of the value of taxes the community estate allegedly paid for the husband’s separate property during the marriage, the value of loans allegedly paid by the community to acquire goods and improvements for the dairy during the marriage, and the value of her separate property 401k used to improve the dairy.

The trial court found the wife was owed $33,024.75 to equalize the division of property and resolve her claims for reimbursement.  The court only found in favor of the wife for the 401k reimbursement, totaling $24,765.  The appeals court noted that the trial court awarded the wife slightly more than she had sought regarding the 401k reimbursement.

The wife argued that the trial court’s findings of fact did not address her other claims for reimbursement, but the appeals court noted she did not request the court make additional findings of fact.  After the trial court files its original findings of fact and conclusions of law, a party may request the court make specified additional or amended findings or conclusions.  If the party fails to timely make such a request, then it is deemed to have waived the right to complain about the court’s failure to enter additional findings.  The appeals court therefore found the wife had waived her other claims for reimbursement.

The wife also challenged the characterization of some of the property.  In its findings of fact, the trial court listed nineteen items or categories of property acquired during the marriage.  The wife argued the finding did not include all of the personal community property.  She also argued there were two tractors and some milking equipment that had not been awarded to either of the parties.  The husband pointed out that the finding was not intended to be an exhaustive list, but was instead a list of items the wife requested the court award to her.  Indeed, the court awarded all but two of the items in that list to the wife.  The appeals court again found the wife waived her complaint regarding the finding because she had not requested the trial court make an additional finding setting out all of the community property.

The wife also argued the property division was manifestly unjust and unfair.  The trial court noted it considered that the husband had provided private residences for his wife’s adult children.  The trial court awarded the wife most of the personal property she requested, for a value of more than $40,000.  The trial court also awarded her one of the reimbursement claims and a sum to equalize the division of the estate.  The wife was awarded a total of $75,274.75 for her division of the community property and her reimbursement claim.

The trial court found the community property awarded to the husband and to the benefit of his separate property was valued at $108,365, but after the deduction of the judgment awarded to the wife, the husband’s total community property award was $75,340.25.  The appeals court found the trial court had made an equal division of the property.

In this case, the wife’s failure to request additional findings resulted in a waiver of those issues.  If you are facing a divorce, an experienced Texas family law attorney can help you wade through the complex procedures.  Call McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200.

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