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Kaley v. Kaley

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

May 14, 2019

KEVIN P. KALEY, Appellant
TERRI E. KALEY, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 411th District Court San Jacinto County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DV13, 678

          Panel consists of Justices Wise, Jewell, and Bourliot.


          Frances Bourliot. Justice

         Kevin P. Kaley appeals from a final decree of divorce dissolving his marriage to Terri E. Kaley. Kevin contends that the trial court abused its discretion in finding Kevin, and not Terri, guilty of cruelty and in ordering a disproportionate division of the community estate. We affirm.[1]


         Kevin and Terri married in 1986. They purchased their homestead during the marriage. The homestead included a home built on 70 acres. Kevin and Terri separated in March 2015. Terri filed for divorce in May.[2] In October, the trial court signed agreed temporary orders, which prohibited either party from incurring any debts other than for legal expenses or otherwise authorized by the order.

         Approximately one year later, Terri obtained a protective order against Kevin based on evidence that he was stalking Terri: for example, Kevin purportedly placed tracking devices on Terri's car twice, trespassed into Terri's residence and left his hat there to intimidate her, sent Terri hundreds of "hateful and threatening emails," and texted Terri "between 50-100 times daily." Further, Kevin tried to access Terri's membership account at her gym and tried to get himself put on as account manager of Terri's cellular phone account. After Terri obtained the protective order, Kevin and Terri both amended their pleadings to allege cruel treatment and seek a disproportionate distribution of assets.

         A copy of the protective order against Kevin was admitted at trial, along with Terri's application for a protective order and supporting affidavits. In Terri's affidavit, she recounted the above facts about Kevin stalking her. Terri also testified that before she got the protective order, she had gone on a business trip, and Kevin followed her to the airport. Also according to Terri, during the course of the marriage, Kevin once had "knocked [Terri] out of her shoes" and often called her derogatory names and falsely accused her of infidelity. Terri's sister Tina also testified that Kevin often called Terri derogatory names and was aggressive to Terri and others. Tina said, "I've seen him yell at her, scream and holler at her, lunge at her."

         Kevin denied the physical abuse. He had alleged infidelity but admitted at trial that he did not know whether Terri had had affairs but stated he "had a bad feeling because [Terri] drank so much." He testified that on the weekends, Terri would stay out drinking and would not come home until early in the morning.

         As far as the parties' assets, Terri testified that the homestead was worth $465, 000, consistent with an appraisal obtained by the parties. Kevin testified that he had spent "[o]ver $200, 000" in upkeep on the property since Terri had filed the divorce petition. Terri testified that she and Kevin owned two Lexus vehicles and a Chevrolet Suburban. She sought spousal support.

         During the marriage, Kevin had a floor installation business. He testified at trial that at most, the business had generated about $80, 000 in revenue per year but in the last couple years, it had generated only between $25, 000 and $30, 000 in revenue. Terri testified to the contrary that Kevin's business generated "probably [$]200, 000 [in revenue] a year." Kevin evaluated the business inventory at approximately $2, 000.

         Terri managed the floor installation business. She testified that she "did everything other than do the" physical labor and make the deposits. Terri also worked for a business owned by her family and testified that her annual salary, which consisted of salary plus commissions, totaled approximately $32, 000 the year before trial.

         Kevin accrued $18, 500 in debt on a Chase credit card after the parties separated. Terri testified that she had paid approximately $11, 000 in interest and fees on that credit card for charges that were made solely by Kevin. At the time of trial, the balance on the card was nearly $16, 000. Also at that time, Kevin had an American Express account with a balance of approximately $46, 000 that he described as "my credit card debt." He also testified that he used what he referred to as "my American Express" to purchase flooring products for the business.

         The trial court (1) granted Terri a divorce from Kevin and dissolved the marriage on the ground of Kevin's cruelty; (2) ordered the sale of the marital residence and ordered a division of the proceeds of the sale 70 percent to Terri and 30 percent to Kevin; (3) awarded Terri the Lexus vehicles, which were both 2007 models; and (4) awarded Kevin the 2001 Suburban, a 2000 Toyota Tundra, and a 1991 Ford F-350, along with a tractor, an all-terrain vehicle, two trailers, a rotary cutter, and a bale carrier. The trial court also assigned the debt as follows: (1) the note on one of the Lexus vehicles was assigned to Terri, along with debts incurred solely by Terri after the parties separated; and (2) the Chase and American Express credit card debt referenced above was assigned to Kevin, along with debts incurred solely by Kevin after the separation. ...

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