Boyd v. Boyd, No. 2-03-026-CV.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtSue Walker
Citation131 S.W.3d 605
PartiesLinda S. BOYD, Appellant, v. David A. BOYD, Appellee.
Decision Date11 March 2004
Docket NumberNo. 2-03-026-CV.
131 S.W.3d 605
Linda S. BOYD, Appellant,
v.
David A. BOYD, Appellee.
No. 2-03-026-CV.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth.
March 11, 2004.

[131 S.W.3d 608]

Law Offices of J. Steven King & Heather L. King, Fort Worth, TX, for Appellant.

Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller, L.L.P., and J. Christopher Nickelson, Fort Worth, TX, for Appellee.

PANEL A: CAYCE, C.J.; LIVINGSTON and WALKER, JJ.

OPINION

SUE WALKER, Justice.


I. INTRODUCTION

The primary issue we address in this appeal is whether uncontroverted testimony by a spouse that he used separate property to benefit the community estate constitutes clear and convincing evidence rebutting the community property presumption and supporting a claim for economic contribution. We hold that, based on the entire record in this case, the evidence presented is not such that the factfinder could reasonably have formed a firm belief or conviction about the truth of the allegations sought to be established sufficient to overcome the community property presumption. Accordingly, although we affirm the parties' divorce, we sustain Appellant Linda Boyd's first and second issues, reverse the portion of the trial court's judgment dividing the parties' property, and remand this cause to the trial court for a just and right division of the community property.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

David and Linda Boyd were married on February 14, 1989. Thirteen years later, after a period of separation, Linda filed for divorce alleging irreconcilable differences between the parties.1 Thereafter, the trial

131 S.W.3d 609

court entered temporary orders granting Linda possession of the community residence during the pendency of the divorce, ordering David to pay Linda $2,000 per month to account for spousal maintenance and to pay the monthly mortgage on the community residence, and instructing the parties to divide the proceeds of a joint money market account.

On July 19, 2002, the trial court notified the parties' attorneys of record that the final hearing was set for October 28, 2002. Less than one month later, Linda's attorney filed a motion to withdraw2 because Linda had repeatedly failed to contact him as requested. Although the motion did not contain any reference to the date of the final hearing, the cover letter accompanying the motion clearly indicated the date. Copies of the motion and the letter were sent to Linda's residence. The trial court subsequently granted the motion to withdraw.

On October 28, 2002, David's attorney telephoned Linda to notify her that she would need to appear in court the following day. On October 29, 2002, the court called the case to trial and both parties announced ready. Thereafter, Linda informed the court that she was proceeding pro se and agreed to allow David to proceed first on his counter-petition for divorce.

During David's case-in-chief, he introduced seven exhibits into evidence without any objection from Linda. The exhibits essentially provided summaries regarding the nature and classification of the property in dispute, including a list of assets that David claimed were Linda's separate property, a list of assets that David claimed were his separate property, a list of assets that David requested the court award to Linda, David's First Amended Inventory and Appraisement that identified the parties' assets and listed David's claims regarding the character and value of each asset, a list of assets that David requested the court award to him, a summary of the proposed division of the parties' community property, and a summary of David's claim for economic contribution. David then briefly testified regarding the nature of various property contained on each list, classifying the property pursuant to his exhibits and requesting that the trial court divide the community estate accordingly. However, during his case, David presented no other documentary evidence or testimony to substantiate his classification of the items in the community estate.

After David presented his case, the court inquired as to whether Linda had any questions for David. Although she indicated that she did have questions for David, she responded that she was going to forego them. During Linda's case-in-chief, she attempted to present evidence regarding an appraisal of the community residence, but David objected because Linda had failed to respond to any of his discovery requests. Thereafter, the trial court sustained David's objection, and Linda rested her case. At the close of the hearing, the trial court granted the parties' divorce and divided the community estate in accordance with David's exhibits. No findings of fact or conclusions of law were requested or filed.

On October 31, 2002, two days after the trial court signed the final decree of divorce, Linda retained counsel and filed a motion for new trial. In her motion, Linda

131 S.W.3d 610

alleged that at the time of the trial, she was unaware that the hearing was a final trial setting and that she did not have the mental capacity to conduct herself competently because she was under the influence of psychiatric drugs. She also complained that the trial court improperly excluded evidence and she challenged the evidence to support the trial court's division of the parties' estate. On January 9, 2003, after a hearing on the motion, the trial court denied Linda's request for a new trial.

Linda perfected this appeal from the trial court's final decree of divorce dissolving her marriage to David and dividing the community estate. In five issues, Linda contends that the trial court erred by granting David's claim for economic contribution, by considering David's claim for economic contribution as a factor in valuing the community estate, by mischaracterizing certain marital assets, by improperly dividing the community estate, and by denying her motion for new trial.

III. ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION

In her first two issues, Linda contends that the trial court erred by granting David's claim for economic contribution and by considering David's claim for economic contribution as a factor in valuing the community estate. Specifically, Linda contends that the trial court abused its discretion with regard to David's claim for economic contribution because David failed to rebut by clear and convincing evidence the presumption that the property he utilized to make an economic contribution to the community estate was community property. Thus, she complains that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support David's claim for economic contribution. David maintains, however, that the evidence is sufficient to support the trial court's implied finding that he overcame the community property presumption by clear and convincing evidence. Consequently, he contends that the trial court properly granted his claim for economic contribution because the evidence established the separate character of the funds used to support his claim.

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A trial court is charged with dividing the community estate in a "just and right" manner, considering the rights of both parties. Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 7.001 (Vernon 1998); Zeptner v. Zeptner, 111 S.W.3d 727, 734 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2003, no pet.) (op. on reh'g). Trial courts are afforded wide discretion in dividing marital property upon divorce; therefore, a trial court's property division may not be disturbed on appeal unless the complaining party demonstrates from evidence in the record that the division was so unjust and unfair as to constitute an abuse of discretion. Jacobs v. Jacobs, 687 S.W.2d 731, 733 (Tex.1985); McClary v. Thompson, 65 S.W.3d 829, 833 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2002, pet. denied). To determine whether a trial court abused its discretion, we must decide whether the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules or principles; in other words, whether the act was arbitrary or unreasonable. See Downer v. Aquamarine Operators, Inc., 701 S.W.2d 238, 241-42 (Tex.1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1159, 106 S.Ct. 2279, 90 L.Ed.2d 721 (1986); McClary, 65 S.W.3d at 833. We must indulge every reasonable presumption in favor of the trial court's proper exercise of its discretion in dividing marital property. Pletcher v. Goetz, 9 S.W.3d 442, 446 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 1999, pet. denied) (op. on reh'g). Accordingly, we will reverse the cause only if the record demonstrates that the trial court clearly abused its discretion, and the error materially affected the just and right division of the community estate. Jacobs, 687 S.W.2d at 732-33.

131 S.W.3d 611

In a non-jury trial, when no findings of fact or conclusions of law are filed or requested, we must presume that the trial court made all the necessary findings to support its judgment. Pharo v. Chambers County, 922 S.W.2d 945, 948 (Tex.1996); Byrnes v. Byrnes, 19 S.W.3d 556, 561 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2000, no pet.). Consequently, if the trial court's implied findings are supported by the evidence, we must uphold its judgment on any theory of law applicable to the case. See Worford v. Stamper, 801 S.W.2d 108, 109 (Tex.1990).

When a reporter's record is brought forward on appeal, the trial court's implied findings may be challenged for legal and factual sufficiency the same as jury findings or a trial court's findings of fact. Roberson v. Robinson, 768 S.W.2d 280, 281 (Tex.1989). However, in family law cases, the abuse of discretion standard of review overlaps with the traditional sufficiency standard of review; thus, legal and factual insufficiency are not independent reversible grounds of error but are relevant factors in assessing whether the trial court abused its discretion. Zeptner, 111 S.W.3d at 734 (citing Beaumont Bank, N.A. v. Buller, 806 S.W.2d 223, 226 (Tex.1991)). Accordingly, to determine whether there has been an abuse of discretion because the evidence is legally or factually insufficient to support the trial court's decision, we engage in a two-pronged inquiry: (1) did the...

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170 practice notes
  • Bradshaw v. Bradshaw, No. 16–0328
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 29, 2018
    ...aff'd, 339 S.W.3d 74 (Tex. 2011) ; Swaab v. Swaab , 282 S.W.3d 519, 525 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, no pet.) ; Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 611 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2004, no pet.).For the first prong, a trial court abuses its discretion in dividing the community estate without ......
  • United States v. Orr, No. 16-CV-00218-RCL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • August 28, 2018
    ...through evidence showing the time and means by which the spouse originally obtained possession of the property." Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 612 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2004). "Separate property will retain its separate character through a series of exchanges so long as" the......
  • In re Everse, No. 07–11–00220–CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 18, 2013
    ...heavily than merely the greater weight of the credible evidence, but the evidence need not be unequivocal or undisputed. Boyd v. Boyd, 131 S.W.3d 605, 611 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2004, no pet.). Tracing involves establishing the separate origin of property through evidence showing the time and......
  • Dunn v. Idaho State Tax Comm'n, Docket No. 44378.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 25, 2017
    ...of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested. Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 612 (Tex. Ct. App. 2004). However, there is a unique feature of Texas community property law:(a) During marriage, each spouse has the sole manag......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
169 cases
  • Bradshaw v. Bradshaw, No. 16–0328
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 29, 2018
    ...aff'd, 339 S.W.3d 74 (Tex. 2011) ; Swaab v. Swaab , 282 S.W.3d 519, 525 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, no pet.) ; Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 611 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2004, no pet.).For the first prong, a trial court abuses its discretion in dividing the community estate without ......
  • United States v. Orr, No. 16-CV-00218-RCL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • August 28, 2018
    ...through evidence showing the time and means by which the spouse originally obtained possession of the property." Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 612 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2004). "Separate property will retain its separate character through a series of exchanges so long as" the......
  • In re Everse, No. 07–11–00220–CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 18, 2013
    ...heavily than merely the greater weight of the credible evidence, but the evidence need not be unequivocal or undisputed. Boyd v. Boyd, 131 S.W.3d 605, 611 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2004, no pet.). Tracing involves establishing the separate origin of property through evidence showing the time and......
  • Dunn v. Idaho State Tax Comm'n, Docket No. 44378.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 25, 2017
    ...of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested. Boyd v. Boyd , 131 S.W.3d 605, 612 (Tex. Ct. App. 2004). However, there is a unique feature of Texas community property law:(a) During marriage, each spouse has the sole manag......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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