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Cockerham v. Cockerham

527 S.W.2d 162 (1975)

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Cockerham v. Cockerham

Texas Supreme Court

527 S.W.2d 162 (1975)

Facts

Dorothy Cockerham (plaintiff) and E.A. Cockerham (defendant) were married. Before the marriage, E.A. owned a one-half interest in a 320-acre tract of land on which he operated a dairy farm without the help of Dorothy. During the marriage, E.A. acquired the remaining one-half interest in the land from his brother and put his and Dorothy’s names on the title. During the marriage, Dorothy opened a dress shop. With E.A.’s permission, Dorothy became liable to a creditor (plaintiff) for money used to purchase dresses for inventory. Subsequently, Dorothy sued E.A. for divorce, and the creditor intervened and asked the court to pay Dorothy’s debt using the 320-acre property. The trial court held that one-half of the land was E.A.’s separate property because he acquired this half before the marriage and that the remaining half was community property because it was acquired during the marriage. The trial court held that the creditor could reach only E.A.’s community-property interest in the 320-acre property. Moreover, because Dorothy did not help run the dairy farm, the trial court held that it was under E.A.’s sole management and therefore was not liable for Dorothy’s dress-shop debts. The court of appeals affirmed. The creditor appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

Dissent (Reavley, J.)

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