Trial Court Overturned on Finding Husband Wasted Community Property
Wasting community property is one valid reason a judge may order a disproportionate division of community property in a Montgomery County Divorce. A common example of wasting community property in a divorce would be if one spouse makes substantial gifts to a new girlfriend, boyfriend, or anyone outside the marriage using community property. If you take money or property that is community property and transfer it outside of the community estate then you may have a “waste” situation which opens the door for a disproportionate division of community property. One court recently ruled that a husband who used community property while the divorce was pending to purchase a new home and car for himself was guilty of waste. The appeals court disagreed. Let’s see why.
Wife and husband married in 1990. In 2006, wife and children fled the family home alleging family violence by husband. The couple filed for divorce in 2007. During divorce proceedings, husband sold community property and used those assets to pay community debts and to purchase a home and an automobile for his personal use. Following trial, trial court awarded wife a disproportionate share of the community estate due to husband’s “wasting of community assets” in violation of a court order.
Husband appealed on multiple grounds including that trial court abused its discretion in finding that he wasted community assets and making a disproportionate property division and money damages award based on that finding.
Waste and Community Property Division
Under the family code, a trial court in a divorce proceeding is charged with ordering a division of the community estate in a manner that the court deems “just and right,” having due regard for the rights of each. In dividing the community estate, the trial court can consider several nonexclusive factors including whether one party wastes community property. Waste occurs when one spouse, dishonestly or purposefully with the intent to deceive, deprives the community estate of assets to the detriment of the other spouse. Waste requires disposal of community assets for non-community purposes or transfer of assets outside of the com-munity.
Is This Waste?
In this case, husband testified that he used the proceeds from selling community assets to pay community bills, including attorney’s fees for the divorce, to buy a new car, and to buy and furnish the new house. While husband’s actions may have been in violation of trial court’s orders and may have been done without wife’s knowledge, the evidence conclusively shows that husband’s actions either were done for community purposes or did not deplete the community assets. In fact, the evidence shows that the net balance of the community remained the same because the community debt was reduced and the community assets were simply transmuted, not lost. Thus, no waste occurred. Accordingly, trial court abused its discretion in finding husband wasted community assets and then basing its division of community property on that finding.
Protect Your Rights
If your husband or wife has used community property in a way that you are concerned about, or if you are accused of misusing community property protect your rights and get help today by calling (832) 592-7913 and speaking with a Montgomery County Divorce Attorney at The Shea Law Firm.
About The Author
The Woodlands Divorce Resource is here to help you with your divorce, child custody, or other family law issue in Montgomery County or Harris County. Many of our visitors come from the areas of The Woodlands, Conroe, Oak Ridge North, Cut and Shoot, and other communities in the Montgomery County area or Houston and North Harris County. If you need legal assistance with your family law issue speak with a Montgomery County divorce lawyer in The Woodlands, TX today and protect your rights. Contact The Shea Law Firm at (832) 592-7913.