Bell v. Bell

In Bell v. Bell, 513 S.W.2d 20, 21 (Tex. 1974), the court of appeals held that the trial court, in dividing the community property of the spouses, erred by failing to consider two corporations that the husband owned before and throughout the marriage. See Bell, 513 S.W.2d at 21. The Texas Supreme Court concluded that (1) the wife agreed that the stock in these companies was the husband's separate property but she argued that the increase in the stockholders' equity during the marriage was community property; and (2) the trial court considered these corporations, the stock in them, and the increase in shareholders' equity and awarded all of these interests to the husband. See id. The Bell court simply held that the trial court did consider the two corporations and therefore the court of appeals erred in reversing based on its conclusion to the contrary. See id. The trial court in Bell concluded that the interests in these two companies were either the husband's separate property or community property and that, if community property, then the trial court exercised its discretion to award all of it to the husband. See id. The Bell court did not address the legal standard that appellate courts should apply to determine whether a trial court's mischaracterization of community property as separate property is reversible error. See id.