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Friday, May 12, 2017

One spouse might get a large discretionary bonus each year, based in part on good work done during the community property period. Other spouse gets what?

Miguel Angel Loya had a job in which he got a sizeable bonus every Spring. He and his wife Leticia B. Loya were getting a divorce and executed a mediated settlement agreement dividing their property. They did this shortly before he got one of his bonuses.When it came, Miguel wanted it, and Leticia said that it wasn't in the property division. The trial court agreed with Miguel, saying, among other things, that it had already been divided in his favor as his future income.
Leticia appealed to the 14th Court of Appeals where Justice Sharon McCally (one of my very favorite classmates in law school)
a majority opinion for herself and for Justice William J. Boyce
 favoring her. Chief Justice Ms. Kem Thompson Frost 
dissented, agreeing with the husband. The husband took up the case to the Supreme Court of the State of Texas, where a unanimous court-- their opinion written  by Justice Debra Lehrmann
 found for the husband.
The lesson-- write those MSAs very carefully. Texas state appeals justices will say that a thing is in MSA rather than develops rules that open up their finality.

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