Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Waring v. Waring

Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont

September 21, 2017

JACK EDWIN WARING, Appellant
v.
FELICIA PHILLIPS WARING, Appellee

          Submitted on July 5, 2017

         On Appeal from the 1st District Court Jasper County, Texas Trial Cause No. 33819

          Before McKeithen, C.J., Horton and Johnson, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HOLLIS HORTON Justice

         Jack Edwin Waring seeks to reverse several of the trial court's rulings that addressed the division and characterization of property in his divorce. We conclude the evidence admitted during the trial supports the trial court's findings, and we affirm the terms in the final decree.

          Factual and Procedural Background Jack Edwin Waring and Felicia Phillips married in 2012 but separated in 2014. Approximately eleven months before marrying Felicia, Jack purchased a tractor[1] and several attachments from a tractor dealership in Beaumont, Texas. Jack signed a five-year note to finance approximately $26, 000 of the purchase price on the equipment that he purchased from the dealership.

         In April, 2014, Felicia sued Jack for divorce. In the live pleadings before the court when the case was tried, Felicia and Jack alleged that they owned various assets before they married. Each asked the trial court to characterize certain assets as separate property, and the property at issue in the appeal is the tractor that Jack purchased in 2011 in Beaumont. Additionally, Jack complains in his appeal that the trial court erred in characterizing the entire bonus he received from his employer in May 2014 as community property, and he claims the majority of it should have been characterized as his separate property because he earned the bonus over the life of a project that began before he and Felicia married.

         The parties' disputes were resolved in a trial to the bench. During the trial, Felicia provided the trial court with an inventory. The inventory listed the various assets she claimed as community property, assets she claimed as her separate property, and it listed the bonus and the tractor among the assets on which the parties had a dispute. Felicia's inventory reflects that she was claiming Jack gave her the tractor as a gift before she and Jack married. Documents admitted into evidence in the trial show that Jack purchased the tractor on November 11, 2011, almost a year before he and Felicia married. The evidence also shows that Jack made all of the monthly installments due on the tractor since he purchased it in 2011.

         Two witnesses, other than Felicia, testified in support of Felicia's claim that Jack gave her the tractor as a Christmas gift: Colleen Phillips (Felicia's mother) and Gerald Lewis (a man who Jack and Felicia hired to build fences). Generally, their testimony tends to support Felicia's claim that the tractor was given to her as a gift. Felicia testified in the trial that Jack purchased the tractor and gave it to her around Christmas in 2011 so that she could use it to clear some land that her father owned. Other testimony in the trial, including Jack's, indicates that before they married, Felicia and Jack were remodeling a house on a farm that her Father owned but did not farm.

         Lewis testified that Jack told him that "he was going to get [the tractor] for [Felicia] for a Christmas present and that's what was brought up as a gift to Felicia for a Christmas gift." Lewis explained that he believed Jack purchased the tractor around the time Jack and Felicia married. Lewis also testified that after the tractor arrived at the farm, he began using it. The context of Lewis's testimony indicates the farm he was referring to is the farm owned by Felicia's father.

         Colleen testified that after Jack purchased the tractor, she was at a farmhouse that Jack and Felicia were remodeling when Jack asked her whether she had seen what he got Felicia for Christmas. According to Colleen, Jack made the statement while referring to the tractor, which was out in the yard. Collen testified that she told Jack that a tractor seemed like a strange Christmas present, but she thought Felicia might like something like that because Felicia liked to farm.

         When Jack testified, he disputed Felicia's claim that the tractor was a gift. Jack stated that he could not recall having any conversations with Colleen or Lewis about giving Felicia the tractor as a Christmas present. Jack also denied that he would have purchased Felicia a $30, 000 Christmas present months before they married. Jack explained that he purchased the tractor in his name in November 2011, and he stated that although he is generous, he would never have given Felicia such an expensive present before they married. According to Jack, he gave Felicia a bracelet and a ring on Christmas Day in 2011, gifts that were wrapped and in boxes. Jack also testified that the tractor was not wrapped or accompanied by anything such as a card to indicate that he intended to give the tractor away as a gift. Jack agreed that when he purchased the tractor, it was to be used on a farm owned by Felicia's father. Jack described the farm before he and Felicia began working on it as overgrown and he testified that the farm had not been used for years. Jack agreed that after he purchased the tractor, Felicia used it on the farm. However, Jack explained that he and Lewis also used it on the farm. Jack testified that as of the trial, he was still making installment payments that he owed on the tractor.

         Jack and Felicia also addressed the bonus Jack received from his employer in May 2014. The inventory in evidence reflects that Felicia claimed the entirety of the bonus as community property. Felicia asked the trial court to divide the bonus equally. In contrast, Jack asked the trial court to prorate the bonus over the four-year and eight-month period that he claimed the bonus had been earned while he was working on a project in Canada. Jack characterized approximately 82% of the bonus as his separate property, using a formula that he asked the trial court to use to characterize a large percentage of the bonus as his separate property. Felicia testified that Jack did not know he was getting the bonus until the project in Canada ended, and that Jack had not earned the bonus over the life of the project. According to Felicia, Jack earned the bonus during their marriage. Neither Jack nor Felicia presented any documents from Jack's employer during the trial to support their testimony about how Jack's bonus had been earned.

         Following the trial, the trial court reduced its findings of fact and conclusions of law to writing. In its written findings, the trial court characterized the tractor as Felicia's separate property because it found that Jack had given the tractor to Felicia as a Christmas present before he married. The trial court allocated the outstanding balance of the note on the tractor to Jack as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.