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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:During their marriage, a husband and wife entered into various business ventures. The source of the investment funds used in forming these businesses was contested at their divorce trial. Several assets that the husband claimed were his separate property were also in dispute. Prior to the marriage, the husband had formed a corporation, DAX, which the trial court held was the husband’s alter ego. In addition to dividing the property, the trial court awarded the wife a money judgment and, to secure that judgment placed liens on community property awarded to the husband. The husband appealed the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. HOLDING:The court reverses the trial court’s judgment to the extent that it awarded the wife an owelty of partition against certain partnership property, and reforms the trial court’s judgment to delete the award of the owelty of partition. In all other respects, the court affirms the trial court’s judgment. The husband contends the trial court erred in characterizing certain items as community assets. He contends these assets are his separate property and that the trial court erred in its finding that DAX was his alter ego. A finding of alter ego allows piercing of the corporate veil, which then allows a trial court to characterize as community property assets that would otherwise be the separate property of a spouse. In a divorce case, the court states that a finding of alter ego sufficient to justify piercing the corporate veil requires: 1. unity between the separate property corporation and the spouse such that the separateness has ceased to exist; and 2. the spouse’s improper use of the corporation damaged the community estate beyond that which might be remedied by a claim for reimbursement. The husband’s income came from DAX. He deposited his earned income into the corporate account. The husband was the sole employee of DAX. He alone was in charge of the day-to-day finances of the corporation. The wife put her income into the parties’ personal account. Instead of doing the same, the husband kept his income in the DAX account. He also used the funds to pay many debts for which he alone was responsible, such as the daycare expenses for his daughter from a former marriage, and to make car payments and payments on a house he owned individually. According to corporate records, there was a substantial amount of money unaccounted for. The court holds that the husband’s practice of commingling his income with that of the corporation supports the trial court’s fraud finding. The court finds that labeling the vast majority of income as belonging to DAX was an effective tool for the husband to enhance his separate property. The court concludes that the husband misused DAX to the extent it damaged the community estate. The husband also contends the trial court mischaracterized his interest in a business partnership as community property, and that the partnership is his separate property because it was purchased with separate funds. Without evidence tracing the funds, the court holds that the husband’s testimony that property was purchased with separate funds was insufficient to rebut the community property presumption. Because the husband failed to establish the partnership as his separate property, the trial court did not err in characterizing it as community property. For the same reason, the court also holds that a tanning business acquired during the marriage was also properly deemed community property. The court also rejects the husband’s argument that certain properties divided were incorrectly valued. The court holds that the trial court properly assessed the value of the partnership in accordance with the appraisal prepared by the wife’s expert witness because the husband’s expert witness failed to include certain improvements to the property. The court additionally rejects the husband’s contention that the trial court erred in ordering him responsible for the parties’ federal income tax liabilities during the marriage. In light of the manner in which the husband managed DAX and controlled its finances, the court concludes the trial court did not err in placing responsibility for the parties’ income tax liability on the husband. In his last point of error, the husband contends that the trial court erred in placing liens on certain assets to secure the money judgment to the wife. A trial court may impose an equitable lien against community property to secure one spouse’s obligation to pay a monetary award that represents the consideration for the other spouse’s relinquishment of his or her interest in the marital estate. The court concludes that the trial court did not err in placing a lien on assets it found to belong to the community. However, the husband also contends the trial court erred in placing an owelty of partition on the entire partnership property. The trial court awarded the community interest in the partnership to the husband. Accordingly, the husband owns one-half of the partnership and his business partner owns the other half. The court holds that, because the business belongs to the partnership, the trial court erred when it placed an owelty of partition against the entirety of the partnership property. OPINION:O’Neill, J.; O’Neill, Bridges and FitzGerald, JJ.

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