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Huey-You v. Huey-You

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

September 14, 2017






         This appeal concerns the award of attorney's fees following an action brought pursuant to Chapter 9 of the Texas Family Code to enforce the trial court's property division in a divorce case. Although the factual and procedural history of this case is complicated, the single issue is not. Appellant Andre Huey-You (Huey-You) contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to modify, correct, or reform the order authorizing the distribution of funds from a sale of property because the attorney fees awarded were not segregated, necessary, or reasonable. We affirm.


         The facts pertinent to this appeal follow the trial court's final decree of divorce signed August 12, 2014. In the decree, the trial court ordered certain Charles Schwab investment accounts be divided equally between appellee Clarette Kimp, formerly known as Clarette Huey-You (Kimp), and Huey-You. Kimp and Huey-You were also to receive 50% each of the proceeds from the court-ordered sale of two pieces of real property owned by the community estate. In the decree, the court awarded $3, 000 to the attorney for each party from the liquidation of a Charles Schwab Roth IRA and ordered that each party was responsible for his or her own additional attorney's fees, expenses, and costs incurred in the case.[2]

         In the months and years that followed the trial court's decree, there was extensive litigation to effectuate the trial court's property-division orders, the details of which are unnecessary to the only issue raised by Huey-You here. Ultimately, the trial court appointed a receiver on March 4, 2016, to sell the community estate's real properties. After further motions and court appearances dedicated primarily to obtaining the cooperation of Huey-You in allowing the receiver to do her job, the court held a hearing and signed orders that authorized the receiver to close on contracts she had obtained for the sale of both properties. Kimp filed a motion to approve distribution of funds from the sale of the properties, which amounted to $167, 217.36. Attached to that motion was a verified declaration signed by Kimp's attorney, setting forth time and billing records to support his request that the court order $32, 025 in reasonable and necessary attorney's fees incurred in connection with the property-enforcement issues only. Additionally, Kimp's attorney declared that "the property enforcement issues were necessarily intertwined and handled together and could not reasonably be segregated; but time spent dealing with custody and possession issues [have] been segregated, in anticipation that such segregation might be necessary." The record before this court reflects that Huey-You did not respond or otherwise object to Kimp's motion requesting the distribution of the proceeds on the sale and the award of attorney's fees.

         On July 5, 2016, the trial court signed an order authorizing distribution of the $167, 217.36 as follows: "$91, 478.24 to Clarette Kimp; $45, 739.12 to Andre Huey-You; and $30, 000 to [Kimp's attorney]." Huey-You then filed a motion to modify, correct, or reform this order, complaining of the attorney's fees awarded. Specifically, Huey-You alleged that "[i]t was improper for the Court to enter orders that awarded attorney's fees; or in the alternative awarded the wrong amount of attorney's fees which resulted in an[] unfair and unreasonable award; and provided excessive relief to the prevailing party." At the hearing on this motion, counsel for Huey-You expanded on the motion by arguing for the first time that the fees awarded were not properly segregated. Although counsel's arguments to the trial court are somewhat difficult to follow, it appears she was arguing that the attorney's fees concerning property issues were not segregated from attorney's fees concerning child-custody issues. Counsel for Huey-You conceded at the hearing that she was not arguing that the rate for Kimp's attorney was unreasonable under "any of the Arthur Anderson factors."[3] Following the hearing, the trial court signed an order denying Huey-You's motion to modify, correct, or reform the order. After Huey-You's timely request, the trial court filed findings of facts and conclusions of law. Specifically, the trial court found that "[r]easonable and necessary attorney's fees incurred by Ms. Kimp for enforcement of property division are $30, 000[]. The trial court then concluded,

1. This court has jurisdiction over Ms. Kimp's motion for enforcement pursuant to Family Code Chapter 9 (enforcement as to property).
4. Petitioner's attorney . . . should be awarded attorney's fees in the sum of $30, 000.00 from the proceeds of the sale.
5. The issues of property enforcement were so intertwined that it would not be appropriate to require segregation of fees.

         Huey-You appeals and argues in one point that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to segregate the attorney's fees and that the evidence was insufficient to show that the award was necessary or reasonable.


         A. ...

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