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Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: GLEICH v. BONGIO

Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases Case 3: GLEICH v. BONGIO.

We continue with the third case in our Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases series, GLEICH v. BONGIO. This case helped Texas divorce attorneys settle the definition of community property during a Texas divorce settlement.

Community Property in Texas Divorce Cases

GLEICH v. BONGIO, 99 S.W.2d 881 (Tex. 1937)

GLEICH v. BONGIO Background

Felix and Bertha were divorced in 1930. During the marriage, numerous plots of land were purchased using a combination of Felix’s separate property and a loan secured by a vendor’s lien.

The Court Decision

Money borrowed on a community obligation is community property. Similarly, property acquired on the credit of the community is community property. So, when a spouse buys property with some of his separate funds, but also incurs a debt for part of the purchase price based on the credit of the community, this creates a tenancy in common between the separate and community estates in the proportion that each estate supplied consideration.

Significance of Case

In Texas, in 1937, women did not have property rights. Although they could own property if they came into the marriage with it, their husband had the legal right to manage it during coverture.

Therefore, there was some discrepancy among the courts as to what happens when the husband buys the property with his separate funds while still taking a loan during a marriage. It is likely that, in practice, the characterization of property purchased in such a way was largely fact driven. In other words, if the trial court was sympathetic to the wife, it might find community ownership.

The Gleich Court settled this issue once and for all, and the concept of proportional ownership has carried over to today.

Interestingly, this concept of proportional ownership was not codified until 1999 in Texas Family Code § 3.006.

“If the community estate of the spouses and a separate estate of a spouse have an ownership interest in property, the respective ownership interests of the marital estates are determined by the rule of inception of title.”
Texas Family Code § 3.006

Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: CAMERON v. CAMERON

Next week will go over case number 4, CAMERON v. CAMERON, a case that settled the confusion around separate personal property in Texas.



Justin Morely | Family Law Attorney San Antonio

Justin Morley

Justin Morley primarily practices family law at Langley & Banack’s San Antonio and New Braunfels locations. Mr. Morley’s family law experience includes divorce, child custody, visitation, complex property divisions, alimony, paternity issues, prenuptial agreements, and adoption cases. He is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and a frequent writer and speaker on family law topics. Scene S.A. named Mr. Morley a Rising Star in 2011 and one of the Best S.A. Lawyers in 2015.





Kristal Thomson | Family Lawyer San Antonio

Kristal Thomson

Kristal Thomson is a family law specialist, board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She focuses on divorces with complex or high net worth estates and complicated custody issues. Her expertise is recognized state-wide through her numerous writing and speaking engagements and involvement in various family law related leadership positions. Ms. Thomson is one of only ten lawyers in San Antonio elected as a fellow to the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Specialists.


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