Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
SHERRIE L. O'QUINN, Appellant,
MARK W. O'QUINN, Appellee.
appeal from the 378th District Court of Ellis County, Texas.
Justices Rodriguez, Contreras, and Benavides.
three issues, appellant, Sherrie L. O'Quinn (Sherrie)
challenges the trial court's order awarding her spousal
maintenance pursuant to her divorce from appellee, Mark W.
O'Quinn (Mark). Specifically, by three issues, Sherrie
contends (1 and 2) the trial court erred in limiting the
amount and the duration of her spousal maintenance award; and
(3) the basis for the spousal maintenance is vague because it
fails to reference Sherrie's disability. We affirm.
approximately twenty-seven years of marriage, Sherrie and
Mark separated in December 2012. In March 2013, Sherrie filed
for divorce. Following a bench trial in June 2016, the trial
court issued a divorce decree on August 24, 2016. In addition
to dividing the parties' community assets and
liabilities, the decree ordered Mark to provide $600 monthly
spousal maintenance to Sherrie for six years. In October 13,
2016, the trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions
of law. This appeal followed.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
review the trial court's decision to award spousal
maintenance for an abuse of discretion. See Lopez v.
Lopez, 55 S.W.3d 194, 198 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2001, no pet.). Under the abuse of discretion standard, legal
and factual sufficiency of the evidence are not independent
grounds for asserting error; however, they are relevant
factors in assessing whether the trial court abused its
discretion. Pickens v. Pickens, 62 S.W.3d 212, 214
(Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, pet. denied). In determining whether
an abuse of discretion has occurred because the evidence is
legally or factually insufficient to support the trial
court's decision, we ask: (1) whether the trial court had
sufficient information upon which to exercise its discretion;
and (2) whether the trial court erred in the application of
its discretion. Gonzalez v. Villarreal, 251 S.W.3d
763, 774 n.16 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2008, pet.
dism'd); In re T.D.C., 91 S.W.3d 865, 872 (Tex.
App.- Fort Worth 2002, pet. denied). The sufficiency review
is related to the first inquiry. In re T.D.C., 91
S.W.3d at 872. If it is revealed in the first inquiry that
there was sufficient evidence, then we must determine whether
the trial court made a reasonable decision. Id.
making our determination, we view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the actions of the trial court and indulge
every legal presumption in favor of the judgment. Smith
v. Smith, 115 S.W.3d 303, 306 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2003, no pet.). The trial court does not abuse its discretion
if there is some evidence of a substantive and probative
character to support the decision or if reasonable minds
could differ as to the result. Id. at 305.
of fact entered in a case tried to a court have the same
force and dignity as a jury's verdict upon special
issues. Pickens, 62 S.W.3d at 214. Therefore, we
apply the same standards when reviewing the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court's
fact findings as we do when reviewing the evidence supporting
a jury's answer to a special issue. Id.
maintenance is an award of "periodic payments from the
future income of one spouse for the support of the other
spouse." See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
8.001(1) (West, Westlaw through 2017 R.S.). The purpose of
spousal maintenance is "to provide temporary and
rehabilitative support for a spouse whose ability for
self-support is lacking or has deteriorated over time while
engaged in homemaking activities and whose capital assets are
insufficient to provide support." Deltuva v.
Deltuva, 113 S.W.3d 882, 888 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2003, no
pet.) (citing O'Carolan v. Hopper, 71 S.W.3d
529, 533 (Tex. App.- Austin 2002, no pet.)).
court may exercise its discretion to award spousal
maintenance only if the party seeking maintenance meets
specific eligibility requirements. Pickens, 62
S.W.3d at 214-15. Section 8.051 of the family code provides,
in relevant part, that a trial court may order spousal
maintenance for either spouse "only if the spouse
seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including
the spouse's separate property, on dissolution of the
marriage to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable
needs and, " among other things, the spouse seeking
maintenance "is unable to earn sufficient income to
provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs because
of an incapacitating physical or mental disability[.]"
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051(2)(A) (West, Westlaw through
consider several factors in determining spousal maintenance.
See id. § 8.052 (West, Westlaw through 2017
R.S.). These factors include: the financial resources, age,
employment history, earning ability, and physical and
emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; the
time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to
enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient
income; the contribution by one spouse to the education,
training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; the
contribution of a spouse as homemaker; any history or pattern
of family violence; and the comparative financial resources
of the spouses. Id.
term "minimum reasonable needs" is not defined in
the family code. Slicker v. Slicker, 464 S.W.3d 850,
860 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2015, no pet.). A trial court
determines whether a party's minimum reasonable needs are