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In re Marriage of Slagle

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

May 22, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF THE MARRIAGE OF CARRIE HOLLOMAN SLAGLE AND ALAN PAUL SLAGLE

          On Appeal from the 300th District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 76596-F

          Panel consists of Justices Jamison, Busby, and Donovan.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          J. Brett Busby Justice

         In this divorce case, appellant Alan Paul Slagle challenges the trial court's division of the marital estate. Paul argues in his first issue that the trial court abused its discretion in dividing the community estate. In particular, Paul contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it found that Graphic Creations, Inc. was his separate property. Paul also asserts that the trial court abused its discretion because insufficient evidence supports the trial court's finding that the community estate was entitled to reimbursement. We overrule this issue because sufficient evidence supports the trial court's division of the marital estate based on its finding that the community estate had a reimbursement claim for community funds used to benefit Graphic Creations, Paul's separate property.

         In his second issue, Paul asserts that the trial court violated his due process rights. We overrule this issue because Paul failed to preserve his complaints in the trial court. We therefore affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Paul and appellee Carrie Holloman Slagle married in June 2000. Carrie filed for divorce in early 2014. The question of the property division went to trial before the bench.[1]

         At the time the divorce action was filed, Carrie was working full-time earning a substantial salary.[2] Paul, on the other hand, was unemployed. By his own admission, Paul was not seeking employment[3] but was instead devoting more than sixty hours a week to "spending money" on a lawsuit involving his separate business, Graphic Creations. Paul was also involved in day-trading, spending all of his free time in that activity. Paul did so with little success, losing $130, 000 in his day-trading account in 2013 alone.

         Much time was spent at trial discussing Graphic Creations. Paul admitted that Graphic Creations existed prior to the marriage. In 2000, the year Paul and Carrie married, Graphic Creations ran independent businesses inside two amusement parks operated by Six Flags.[4] Graphic Creations eventually grew to locations inside six parks. Graphic Creations' original arrangement with Six Flags required it to pay Six Flags approximately thirty percent of each location's earnings. According to Carrie, this arrangement had worked well for Paul, he had used it to pay his way through college, and the business was profitable.

         Graphic Creations' profitability changed in 2007 when Six Flags began experiencing financial difficulties. According to Carrie, Six Flags began looking for ways to cut costs. One method they chose was to increase the fee they charged Graphic Creations to forty percent of earnings. Graphic Creations sued Six Flags over this changed arrangement.[5] According to Carrie, Paul did not earn an income after 2007. Despite the breakdown in the relationship with Six Flags, Paul maintained a separate office for Graphic Creations in Pearland. The expense of keeping this office open continued until 2013, when Paul shut down the business.

         According to Carrie, Paul began spending more and more time on the lawsuit against Six Flags. Carrie testified that Paul would leave the house early in the morning and would not return until late at night, often two o'clock in the morning of the next day. Carrie also testified that during this same time period Paul began taking Adderall, a medication prescribed for people with attention deficit disorder. Carrie told the trial court that Paul had not been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but used the drug as a stimulant.[6]

         The couple loaned money to Graphic Creations throughout the marriage. Outright cash loans totaled $681, 042. Carrie testified that the money for these loans came exclusively from her salary. In addition, at the end of each year, Paul would have Graphic Creations pay him a small salary, which he would then loan back to the business. The annual loans made from Paul's salary totaled $164, 502.

         At the conclusion of the bench trial, the trial court signed a Final Decree of Divorce. It dissolved the marriage on the grounds of insupportability. In addition to appointing Carrie sole managing conservator of the children and ordering Paul to pay monthly child support, the trial court divided the marital estate. It awarded Paul (1) all cash in his possession as well as any bank accounts in his name or where he had the sole right to make withdrawals, (2) a 2006 BMW, [7] (3) a golf cart, (4) the "separate business Graphic Creations, " and (5) any recovery received in Graphic Creations' lawsuit against Six Flags. The trial court awarded Carrie (1) the house the couple had acquired during the marriage along with its contents, (2) all cash in her possession as well as any bank accounts in her name or where she had the sole right to make withdrawals, (3) retirement accounts in her name, (4) a 2008 Honda Odyssey, (5) a 2006 Lexus, and (6) a health savings account.

         The trial court then turned to the marital estate's debts. It assigned the following debts to Paul: (1) American Express credit card balance totaling $28, 000, (2) Chase Visa credit card balance totaling $14, 000, (3) the $11, 000 balance owed on the BMW title loan, (4) $3, 006.54 owed to a health savings account that Paul had used for non-medical purposes, and (5) any debts he had incurred on or after April 2, 2014. The trial court then assigned to Carrie any debts she had incurred on or after April 2, 2014.

         The trial court included the following finding in the divorce decree:

IT IS DECREED that the community estate is entitled to reimbursement from [Paul's] separate estate for $681, 042.00 and that [Carrie] is entitled to a judgment of . . . $340, 521.00." IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND DECREED that [Carrie] is awarded as payment of the debt, the real property at . . . Pearland, Texas 77584 whose 50% equity is [$91, 130]. [Carrie] is awarded the IRA whose 50% value is [$170, 000]. ...

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