X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Thomas Francis Moroch appeals from a final decree of divorce from Christy Calvert Collins. Thomas challenges: 1. the trial court’s characterization of the parties’ estates; 2. the economic contribution award and the division of property; 3. the child support award; and 4. the attorney’s fee award. He also challenges the admission of evidence relevant to Christy’s economic contribution claim. HOLDING:Affirmed. In 1979, Thomas and Christy purchased a house in Dallas referred to as the DeLoache property. Thomas contends the trial court erred in considering Christy’s economic contribution claims for the down payment and mortgage payment and for the first phase of renovation expenses because those claims were precluded by a 1987 postnuptial agreement. First, Thomas argues that Christy waived her claim for economic contribution in paragraph 3.03 of the 1987 postnuptial agreement. That paragraph, entitled Waiver by Wife, provides: “Wife waives and releases any right of reimbursement that she might presently or in the future have or claim on behalf of her separate estate or the community estate against the separate estate of Husband.” Paragraph 3.03 plainly waives Christy’s claim for reimbursement against Thomas’ separate estate. Here, however, Christy asserted a claim for economic contribution against the community estate, not Thomas’ separate estate. The plain language of paragraph 3.03 does not apply to waive and release this claim. Thomas also argues that, because no specific mention was made of the $310,000 purchase price and the pre-1987 capital improvements in the agreement, the 1987 postnuptial agreement designated the equity that existed in the DeLoache property as community property, even if Christy’s separate estate paid those amounts. Thomas argues that the intent of the parties as expressed in the postnuptial agreement was to partition their property and define the DeLoache property as community, which necessarily included any equity that existed in the DeLoache property. Thomas argues that any claim to those funds was merged into the postnuptial agreement, estopping Christy from making an economic contribution claim for those funds at divorce. The text of the 1987 postnuptial agreement does not support Thomas’ argument, the court decides. Although incorporated into a final divorce decree, a marital property agreement is treated as a contract, and its legal force and meaning are governed by the law of contracts, not by the law of judgments. Allen v. Allen, 717 S.W.2d 311 (Tex. 1986). The court finds that under the agreement neither Thomas nor Christy “grant[ed], release[d], and confirm[ed] . . . all right, title, and interest in and claims to” the DeLoache property. Further, paragraphs 3.02 and 3.03 waived and released Thomas’ and Christy’s present and future claims for reimbursement against each other’s separate estates, but not claims against the community. By referring to � and waiving and releasing � some reimbursement claims but not others, the document makes clear that not only is there no waiver of Christy’s claim against the community estate, but also that she is not estopped from asserting that claim. The court concludes the 1987 postnuptial agreement and its partition of the DeLoache property as community property does not preclude Christy’s claim for economic contribution on divorce. The court resolves all of Thomas’ remaining issues against him. OPINION:Moseley, J.; Moseley, Bridges and Lang-Miers, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.