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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In May 2000, a trial court entered a divorce decree based on a mediated agreement between Eileen Harleaux and her ex-husband. Harleaux was to stay in the homestead, but certain obligations were assigned to her. Her ex-husband filed a motion to enforce the agreement. The trial court granted the husband’s motion, appointing a receiver, ordering the property sold, and ordering Harleaux to pay $6,000 in attorneys’ fees to her ex-husband. Upon a subsequent motion for sanctions, the trial court ordered in November 2003 that the attorneys’ fees be paid out of the homestead proceeds held in the court’s registry, saying the order was based in part on the division of the homestead interest and in part as a sanction. HOLDING:Affirmed in part; reversed and rendered in part. The court rules that, whether characterized as part of the division of the homestead interest or as a sanction, the trial court was not authorized to order that the attorneys’ fees be paid out of the homestead registry funds. Generally, because of the constitutional protections of the homestead, a trial court may not order that the proceeds from the sale of that homestead be used to extinguish the liabilities due unsecured or general creditors. An order to pay attorneys’ fees from the proceeds from the sale of the house circumvents the constitutional and statutory provisions protecting the homestead and its proceeds. The trial court did not have authority to make such an order as a division of the homestead interest, as the court’s plenary power to modify the divorce decree had long since passed. Though the trial court had the authority to impose sanctions, no authority exists to allow a trial court to convert an existing judgment into a sanction in order to circumvent well-established law precluding the court from ordering payment of attorneys’ fees from homestead proceeds. The court reverses on the payment of attorneys’ fees, but affirms the trial court’s other orders regarding the appointment of a receiver and the order to sell the homestead. OPINION:Carolyn Wright, J.; Wright, FitzGerald and Lang-Miers, JJ.

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