Before filing for Chapter 7, the debtors filed an action against their neighbors seeking to acquire a portion of their land through adverse possession. The debtors lost on summary judgment, and the trial court awarded the neighbors $45,000 in attorney fees. The debtors then obtained a Chapter 7 discharge, under which their 37.41-acre tract of real property was declared to be exempt homestead property. The neighbors objected, but the bankruptcy court overruled their objection. The court ruled that under Texas law, a claimant could establish homestead rights in his land by showing (i) overt acts of homestead usage and (ii) the intention on the part of the owner to claim the land as a homestead. An objecting party, argued the court, had the burden of demonstrating that the homestead rights had been terminated. Finally, the court ruled that a rural homestead could consist of "not more than 200 acres, which may be in one or more parcels, with the improvements thereon." Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 41.002(b). The court ruled that the debtors showed that the parcels were contiguous and that they had used the parcels and the lot adjoining the house for the "comfort, convenience or support of the family." The court also ruled that the debtors did not abandon the homestead. In re Ling, No. 13-36967, 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 2367 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. May 30, 2014).
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