Click here to download this article in PDF format: Injury Settlements Are Usually Community Property INJURY SETTLEMENTS ARE USUALLY COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN A TEXAS DIVORCE by Greg Enos February 2014 A spouse’s recovery for an injury claim is usually community property because most settlements mix all of the damage elements together in a single payment. General Principles Recoveries in injury claims are treated like other property in a divorce and the usual presumptions and burdens of proof apply. When a spouse receives a settlement from a lawsuit during the marriage, some of which could be separate property and some of which could be community property the burden of proof is on the spouse claiming the funds as separate property. Kyles v. Kyles, 832 S.W.2d 194,198 (Tex. App. - Beaumont 1992, no pet). All property is presumed to be community property and “clear and convincing evidence” must be presented to establish that property is separate property. Tex ... Read More >
Divorce court cannot award reimbursement to a spouse’s separate estate if the spouse did not trace her separate property.
Here, the wife’s separate estate was awarded a $41,000 reimbursement claim against the community estate which the trial court used to reach a 60/40 property split. The court of appeals held that the wife failed to prove $32,000 of that amount was her separate property and this required a reversal of the entire property division since the $32,000 represented about 20% of the entire net community estate. Roberts v. Roberts, No. 04-11-00554-CV (Tex. App. - San Antonio 5/1/2013). ... Read More >
Land acquired with wife’s separate property but deeded to husband and wife was not a gift of a 50% interest to the husband.
This case shows how to overcome the presumption that when a spouse uses separate property to acquire land during the marriage and takes title to the land in the names of both the husband and wife, it is presumed that the interest given the non-purchasing spouse is a gift. Here, a trust was established in favor of three sisters, one of whom was the wife in the divorce case. The 23 acres was conveyed from the trust to the wife and husband and the husband claimed he owned a one half separate interest in the land. Each sister was deeded land from the trust and each deed recited that the sisters were giving up their separate interests in those properties. The trial court awarded it all to wife as her separate property. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling and held: (1) the husband had the burden to prove he owned one half of the land as his separate property [it is not clear why the wife did not have the burden to prove it was all her separate property]; (2) the ... Read More >
Student Loans Incurred Before Marriage Are Separate Debt
A trial court cannot order one spouse to pay the student loans of the other spouse which were incurred before the marriage. The Houston First Court of Appeals has ruled: The obligation to pay the loans arose before marriage and should be treated as Sophia's separate debt-separate debt that could not be assigned to the non-incurring spouse. Accordingly, we conclude the trial court erred in assigning Sophia's premarital student loan debt to Albert because that student loan debt constituted Sophia's separate debt. Love v. Love, 217 S.W.3d 33, 35 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, no pet.). ... Read More >