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In re Marriage of Lehman

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 28, 2018


          On Appeal from the 344th District Court Chambers County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CV29104

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Donovan, and Jewell.


          John Donovan Justice.

         This is an appeal from a judgment of divorce between Sherrie Lehman and Doug Lehman. Sherrie asks us to consider one issue: whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to whether Sherrie voluntarily signed the premarital agreement. We find no error in the trial court's judgment and affirm.

         I. Background

         On December 17, 2005, Sherrie and Doug were married in Las Vegas, Nevada. One day earlier, the parties executed a premarital agreement in Harris County, Texas, that precluded the acquisition of community property during their marriage. In attached schedules A and C to the premarital agreement, the separate property of Doug and the separate property of Sherrie, respectively, was identified.

         Ten years later, in January 2015, Sherrie filed for divorce, asserting the marriage had become insupportable because of discord in conflict of personalities. Doug filed an amended partial motion requesting both traditional and no evidence summary judgment on Sherrie's claims for a "Separate Property Agreement," including reimbursement, post-divorce maintenance, and her challenge to the premarital agreement as involuntary and unconscionable. The trial court conducted a hearing, and on February 12, 2016, the trial court granted partial summary judgment on these claims in favor of Doug. In its order the trial court stated, "Petitioner may not allege any of the theories on recovery for which summary judgment has been granted in the trial of this matter."

         On December 16, 2016, the court called the matter to trial and entered a final divorce decree, finding that no community property had been accumulated by the parties except for a travel trailer that was awarded to Sherrie. Sherrie timely appealed.

         II. Analysis

         In her appeal, Sherrie asserts one issue, claiming the trial court erred in granting Doug's partial motion for summary judgment because Sherrie's response to the motion "clearly raised [a] genuine issue of material fact as to whether [Sherri] voluntarily signed the premarital agreement."

         A. Standard of review

         The summary judgment standards of review are well-known. We review de novo the trial court's order granting summary judgment. Ferguson v. Bldg. Materials Corp. of Am., 295 S.W.3d 642, 644 (Tex. 2009) (per curiam); Wyly v. Integrity Ins. Solutions, 502 S.W.3d 901, 904 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.). We consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant, and indulge reasonable inferences and resolve all doubts in its favor. See City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 824 (Tex. 2005); Wyly, 502 S.W.3d at 904. "We credit evidence favorable to the non-movant if reasonable fact finders could and disregard contrary evidence unless reasonable fact finders could not." Wyly, 502 S.W.3d at 904.

         To prevail on a no-evidence summary judgment, the movant must allege that no evidence exists to support one or more essential elements of a claim for which the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(i); Kane v. Cameron Int'l Corp., 331 S.W.3d 145, 147 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet.). A no-evidence motion may not be conclusory, but must instead give fair notice to the non-movant as to the specific element of the non-movant's claim that is being challenged. See Timpte Indus., Inc. v. Gish, 286 S.W.3d 306, 310-11 (Tex. 2009). The non-movant must then present evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact on the challenged elements. Kane, 331 S.W.3d at 147. A fact issue exists where there is more than a scintilla of probative evidence. See Buck v. Palmer, 381 S.W.3d 525, 527 (Tex. 2012) (per curiam). More than a scintilla of evidence exists if the evidence rises to a level that would allow reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions as to the existence of a vital fact. Dworschak v. Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc., 352 S.W.3d 191, 196 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet.) (citing Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 601 (Tex. 2004)).

         To prevail on a traditional motion for summary judgment, a movant must establish that no genuine issue of material fact exists so that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c); Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, 289 S.W.3d 844, 848 (Tex. 2009). Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant ...

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