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.

In re Marriage of Rangel

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 27, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF THE MARRIAGE OF JOSE EUGENIO RANGEL AND CATALINA TOVIAS-RANGEL

          On Appeal from the 311th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2015-68294

          Panel consists of Justices Wise, Jewell, and Bourliot.

          MAJORITY OPINION

          Kevin Jewell Justice

         Catalina Tovias-Rangel appeals from a final decree of divorce dissolving her marriage to Jose Eugenio Rangel. In her first four issues, Catalina complains that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding certain evidence, the cumulative effect of which denied her a fair trial and probably caused an improper judgment. In a fifth issue, Catalina asserts that the trial court's equal disposition of the marital residence was manifestly unjust because it is unsupported by factually sufficient evidence.[1]

         We affirm the judgment.

         Background

         Catalina and Jose Eugenio Rangel married in 1996 and separated in 2015. They have two children. Jose filed an original petition for divorce, and Catalina filed a counter-petition.

         The parties agreed to a mediated settlement agreement addressing custody of the children and child support. The parties also agreed on terms regarding the division of the community estate except for the home purchased during the marriage. The only issues at trial involved the grounds for divorce and division of the marital residence. On these matters, Catalina complains that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence in three categories: (1) Catalina's separate property contribution to the purchase of the marital home; (2) Catalina's sole assumption of marital residence expenses during the marriage; and (3) Catalina's personal observation of her husband's "public display of intimacy with an alleged affair partner." We discuss the record regarding these arguments in more detail below.

         The trial court granted the divorce, ordered the marital residence sold, and ordered the sale proceeds divided equally among Catalina and Jose.

         Catalina filed a motion for new trial and to reform the judgment. Catalina attached a declaration to the motion that detailed certain facts to which she said she would have testified had the trial court not excluded those matters. In the motion, Catalina asked the trial court to reform the judgment and award the marital residence to her. Alternatively, Catalina sought a new trial on the marital residence issue.

         The trial court held a hearing on the motion. Catalina's counsel called Catalina as a witness, but the trial court sustained Jose's objection to the consideration of new evidence. The trial court denied the motion.

         Analysis

         A. Evidentiary Issues

         We discuss Catalina's first three issues together because they are grounded on the argument that the trial court wrongly excluded evidence.

         In her first issue, Catalina argues that the trial court erroneously excluded evidence involving her use of separate property as a down payment on the marital residence. In her second issue, Catalina claims the trial court erred in excluding evidence that she paid the mortgage, insurance, and taxes on the marital residence for over two years without Jose's assistance and in part from her separate property. In her third issue, Catalina contends that the trial court erroneously excluded her testimony that she saw Jose's public display of intimacy with an alleged affair partner.

         On direct examination, Catalina was asked how the marital residence was purchased. Jose's counsel objected on the basis that "any testimony about a down payment on the home or any other claims of reimbursement" had not been pleaded. The trial court sustained the objection. Catalina's counsel responded, "In my pleading, I addressed division of community property and requested a disproportionate share of the parties? . . . Would that not address the -- what we're discussing about the main residence?" The trial court responded, "Right. Counsel, I've stated several times that that is a contested issue, whether or not the division of this estate should be disproportionate or not. So, yes, you may go into why it should be disproportionate. However, a down payment on a residence is not a disproportionate issue."[2]

         Catalina's counsel then stated that Catalina made other payments regarding the residence after Jose moved out, specifically house payments, insurance and taxes. Jose again objected that the described evidence went to an unpleaded claim for reimbursement. The trial court sustained the objection. Catalina's counsel passed the witness.

         Later, an exchange occurred during Catalina's direct examination that forms the basis of her third issue:

Q. Do you know Ms. Norma?
A. Yes.
Q. What do you think is the relationship between Mr. Rangel and Norma?
A. He went to live at the house where he used to live. And several times he took her to parties where my children and I were. And he ...

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.