Acceptance of Benefits Doctrine
If you accept the benefits of your divorce judgment, you may be waiving your right to appeal that judgment.
The Doctrine and Its ExceptsionsUnder the acceptance-of benefits doctrine, a litigant cannot treat a judgment as both right and wrong. Carle v. Carle, 149 Tex. 469, 234 S.W.2d 1002, 1004 (1950); Bloom v. Bloom, 935 S.W.2d 942, 945 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1996, no writ). If a litigant voluntarily accepts the benefits of a judgment, he is estopped from challenging it on appeal. Carle, 234 S.W.2d at 1004. The doctrine, however, does not apply if (1) reversal of the judgment could not possibly affect the appellant's right to the benefits already secured under it; (2) economic circumstances compelled the appellant to accept benefits; or (3) the appellant=s acceptance of cash benefits under the judgment was not prejudicial to the other party. Carle, 234 S.W.2d at 1004; Demler v. Demler, 836 S.W.2d 696, 697 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1992, no writ), overruled on other grounds by Dallas Mkt. Ctr. Dev. Co. v. Liedeker, 958 S.W.2d 382 (Tex. 1997); Smith v. Tex. Commerce Bank, 822 S.W.2d 812, 814 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1992, writ denied); Trevino v. Trevino, 555 S.W.2d 792, 795-96 (Tex. Civ. App.--Corpus Christi 1977, no writ). Numerous authorities, approaching the exception from a slightly different angle, define it, in effect, in this language: Where an appellant accepts only that which appellee concedes, or is bound to concede, to be due him under the judgment he is not estopped to prosecute an appeal that involves only his right to a further recovery. Embry v. Palmer, 107 U.S. 3, 2 S.Ct. 25; Hodges v. Smith, 79 S.W. 328, (Tex. Civ. App.--1904, writ dism.). The exception is narrow. Carle, 234 S.W.2d at 1004.
Who Has the Burden of Proof?In an appeal from a judgment brought by a party who has accepted benefits from the judgment, the appellee has the burden to establish that the appellant is estopped by the acceptance-of-benefits doctrine. Cooper v. Bushong, 10 S.W.3d 20, 23 (Tex. App.--Austin 1999, pet. denied). This burden is satisfied if the record reflects the relevant facts showing voluntary acceptance of benefits of the judgment. Demler, 836 S.W.2d at 697; Rogers v. Rogers, 806 S.W.2d 886, 889 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1991, no writ).