Harrington v. Harrington – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Harrington v. Harrington, 742 S.W.2d 722 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 1987, no writ), the husband contended that the trial court divested him of his separate property house. Id. at 723.

He argued that the credit application and title to the property were solely in his name. Id. Thus, he said, the house was his separate property. Id.

The trial court found that the parties agreed title to the house would be taken in the husband's name for credit purposes and convenience only. Id. at 724. It also found that the parties intended the residence to be owned, used, and enjoyed jointly. Id.

The trial court concluded that the parties entered into an oral partnership/joint venture to own and occupy the house, and that they owned the house as tenants in common. Id.

At trial, the evidence showed that the parties lived together for three years before deciding to purchase a house. Id. at 724-25.

The parties went house-hunting together and found the house. Id. at 725. The wife testified that her husband told her that because she was earning so little money at the time, he would apply for the loan himself and put his name on it. Id.

She agreed and had no concern that he would ever assert the property was his alone. Id. The wife testified that they always referred to the property as "our home," and that the husband never claimed the property was his alone before the separation. Id.

They both contributed to improving the house. Id. The parties were married approximately two years after purchasing the house. Id. at 723.

The appellate court held that there was some evidence to support the trial court's findings and conclusion that the parties intended to purchase and own the house as partners. Id. at 725.

Therefore, the court found no abuse of discretion in the trial court's judgment. Id.

In sum, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court's finding that the husband and wife owned a home, which they purchased prior to marriage, as tenants in common pursuant to an oral partnership.

The trial court found that the parties looked for a home, agreed on the choice of a home, and both parties attended the closing. Id. at 723.

The trial court further found that, at the time of the purchase of the home, that parties agreed that title to the property would be taken in the appellant's name, for credit purposes and convenience only, but intended that the residence be owned, used, and enjoyed jointly. Id. at 723-24.