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Roberts v. Roberts

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 10, 2017

Martin E. ROBERTS, Appellant
v.
Margaret D. ROBERTS, Appellee

         From the 57th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2009-CI-09297 Honorable Antonia Arteaga, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          OPINION

          IRENE RIOS, JUSTICE

         The trial court's Order on Issues Remanded by the Fourth Court of Appeals is REVERSED and REMANDED IN PART and REVERSED and RENDERED in part;

         The Divorce Decree is MODIFIED in part with regard to spousal maintenance and AFFIRMED in part as modified and REVERSED and REMANDED in part with regard to division of property

         Introduction

         This is the second appeal from a divorce proceeding between Martin Roberts and Margaret Roberts. In the previous appeal, this en banc Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's order of divorce decree. This Court remanded the cause to the trial court for determination of "a just and right division of the marital estate and proper spousal maintenance determination." See Roberts v. Roberts, 402 S.W.3d 833, 840-41, 843 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2013, no pet.).

         Following remand, the trial court entered an "Order on Issues Remanded by the Fourth Court of Appeals" (Remand Order). Martin appeals, complaining the trial court abused its discretion in its division of the community estate and in its award of spousal maintenance to Margaret. We reverse the trial court's Remand Order with regard to its division of the community estate and remand for determination of a just and right division. We reverse the trial court's Remand Order with regard to its award of spousal maintenance. We modify the divorce decree to remove the award of spousal maintenance and affirm this portion of the divorce decree as modified.

         Background

         Martin and Margaret married on March 8, 1997, and had two children together. Martin filed for divorce in 2009. In 2010, the case went to trial before a jury on a single issue of geographical restriction of Margaret's residence sought by Martin. The trial court heard the remaining non-jury issues, which included possession of and access to the children, characterization and division of property, and spousal maintenance. In the first trial, the trial court ordered a disproportionate division of the marital estate and ordered Martin to pay spousal maintenance in the amount of $1, 550 per month for thirty-six months and $1, 000 per month for an indefinite period thereafter. The trial court awarded Margaret her separate property reimbursement claim for $41, 000 and fulfilled this reimbursement through the equity in the marital residence that was awarded to Margaret. Martin appealed.

         In the first appeal, this en banc Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's order, concluding that $32, 000 was mischaracterized as separate property. The en banc Court remanded the cause for determination of a just and right division of the marital estate in light of this conclusion and of spousal maintenance in light of the trial court's division of the community property. See Roberts, 402 S.W.3d at 837-39.

         Upon remand, the trial court determined "only $9, 000 of the original $41, 000 claimed separate property [was] deemed the separate property of MARGARET D. ROBERTS." With regard to the division of community assets, the trial court determined:

. . . all assets specifically awarded in the Final Decree of Divorce to each spouse remains just and right.
The Court changes its original ruling of a 60/40 division of the property assets and now declines to affix a percentage to the division of the property/assets.
Based on all evidence and argument . . . the Court finds that the division of assets in the Final Decree of Divorce continues to be just today.

         Upon remand for determination of spousal maintenance, the trial court found that Margaret "is disabled and spousal support shall remain the same per the Final Decree of Divorce rendered on October 7, 2010", that is, $1, 550 per month for thirty-six months and $1, 000 per month for an indefinite period thereafter. Although Martin requested findings of fact and conclusions of law and filed a past due notice, the trial court issued none.

         Analysis

         Spousal Maintenance

         In his second point of error, Martin asserts the trial court abused its discretion by awarding spousal maintenance to Margaret.[1] First, Martin contends Margaret failed to demonstrate she is eligible for spousal maintenance because she failed to show she lacked sufficient property to provide for her minimum reasonable needs. Second, even if Margaret did make this demonstration, Martin contends she failed to rebut the statutory presumption against an award of spousal maintenance because she did not present credible evidence of her incapacitating disability.

         We will address Martin's second argument first: whether Margaret satisfied her burden to show she suffers ...


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