Reese v. Holston

67 So. 3d 109 (2011)

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Reese v. Holston

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
67 So. 3d 109 (2011)

Facts

Kathleen T. Holston (plaintiff) filed for divorce from John Lewis Reese (defendant) on January 29, 2008, claiming that she and Reese had a common-law marriage and asking the court to find that the house where she lived before the relationship began was marital property (“the alleged marital property”). Reese filed an answer denying that there was a common-law marriage and claiming theirs was a landlord-tenant relationship with occasional sexual intimacy. At trial, testimony established that the alleged marital property was in foreclosure when Reese bought it from Holston in February 1999 and Holston continued to live there for some time. Holston testified that she agreed to pay Reese $250 per month as repayment for the house; Reese testified that Holston agreed to pay rent. According to Holston, the common-law marriage began on December 23, 1999, when Reese allegedly proposed marriage to Holston. Two of Holston’s family members testified that on December 24, 1999, Holston and Reese announced their marriage to the family. Reese denied having proposed marriage to Holston and claimed that he was dating three other women in December 1999. Holston and a family member testified that Holston and Reese began living together as husband and wife in December 1999 in Reese’s house in Waverly, Alabama, and that Holston and Reese moved from the Waverly house to the alleged marital property in 2001. Reese testified that Holston sometimes spent the night with him in his Waverly house but Holston had no belongings there. Reese agreed that he and Holston lived together in the alleged marital property but testified that Holston slept in a separate room. Reese filed to evict Holston from the alleged marital property in February 2004 because Holston never made the agreed-upon payments. Holston testified that her fellow churchgoers believed her to be married to Reese because Holston and her family members told the churchgoers of the marriage. Reese attended a different church, and Reese’s family members were the only churchgoers there who believed Reese and Holston were married. Holston submitted into evidence two funeral programs created by her family members that listed her as Kathleen Reese. The trial court determined a common-law married existed, divorced Reese and Holston, and awarded Holston the alleged marital property. Reese appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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