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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Anna Maurer-Schaban moved to the United States in 1994 and married Basil Schaban-Maurer soon after her arrival. At the time, Basil had a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in architecture. After the two were married, Anna attended college for approximately three years, during which time Basil supported her by working as an architect for various firms in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The same year that Anna completed her education and entered the workforce, Basil stopped working full-time and instead worked sporadically, never holding down a job for more than one year and eventually giving up all efforts at obtaining employment. From 2000 until the time of the divorce in 2006, Basil did not earn a salary. During that time, however, Basil entered a Ph.D. program, taking approximately one class per semester. In 2002, the couple had their first child. Three years later, they had their second child. The trial court heard testimony that, despite the fact Basil stayed at home, the children went to daycare during the day and that Anna attended to the children and the household chores after getting home from work. Furthermore, the trial court heard and saw evidence of domestic abuse by Basil against Anna. Driven by her frustration at Basil’s distaste for employment, failure to contribute to the family unit and domestic violence, Anna filed for divorce in late 2005. Fearing that leaving Basil and taking the children would spark more domestic violence, Anna also sought a protective order, which was granted in November 2005. In September 2006, the trial court conducted proceedings to determine the terms of the final divorce decree. At the conclusion of these proceedings, the trial court awarded a disproportionate amount of community property to Anna and ordered Basil to pay $700 per month for child support. Basil appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. In a divorce proceeding, the court stated, the trial court is charged with dividing the community estate in a “just and right” manner, considering the rights of both parties. In exercising its discretion, the trial court must order an equitable, but not necessarily equal, division of the community estate. Some of the factors the trial court can consider, the court stated, include the spouses’ capacities and abilities, benefits which the party not at fault would have derived from continuation of the marriage, business opportunities, education, relative physical conditions, relative financial condition and obligations, size of the separate estates and the nature of the property. The trial court may also consider fraud on the community, wasting of community assets, child custody and fault in the breakup of the marriage. The court noted that the the trial court listed several factors it considered in dividing the property, including fault in the breakup of the marriage, fraud on the community, wasting of community assets by the spouses, and actual and constructive fraud committed by a spouse. The court noted that Basil had a master’s in architecture and did not controvert Anna’s testimony that he was mentally and physically capable of working. The court also credited Anna’s testimony that Basil had secretly accessed, withdrawn and hidden $22,000 from the account, refusing to share it with Anna. Indulging every reasonable presumption in favor of the trial court’s ruling, the court could not say that, given the testimony, the trial court abused its discretion in maing an unequal award of marital property. The court also found that trial court did not err in granting the protective order, because sufficient evidence supported a finding that family violence could occur in the future. Finally, Basil argued that the trial court abused its discretion by assessing his monthly child support payments at $700. The court noted, however, that a parent who is qualified to obtain gainful employment cannot evade his or her support obligation by voluntarily remaining unemployed or underemployed. In finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in setting Basil’s monthly child support payment, the court noted evidence that Basil reduced his or her income for the purpose of decreasing child support payments. Some probative and substantive evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Basil was underemployed and had an earning potential of $40,000 per year, the court stated. OPINION:Walker, J.; Livingston, Walker and McCoy, JJ.

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