Most Texas custody cases are between a child’s parents, but in some cases other family members may be involved. In a recent case, an uncle challenged a modification of the access and possession terms of a court order related to his brother’s child. Although the trial court expressed an intention to clarify the original order, the appeals court found it had improperly made a substantive change.
The child’s father is deceased. In 2016, the father’s brother filed suit to be named as the child’s primary conservator. The uncle and the mother ultimately reached an agreement, which was incorporated by the court’s order. The order gave primary possession to the uncle and periodic possession to the mother. The uncle had the right to request the mother undergo drug testing once a month. She was required to appear for drug testing at a designated location within 24 hours of the uncle sending notice. The uncle was prohibited from sending notice Friday through Sunday at 9:00 a.m. If the mother failed to appear within 24 hours, the results would be deemed positive. If the drug test results were positive or deemed positive, the mother’s periods of possession would be suspended until there was a further court order.
The mother moved to enforce the order a month after it was entered. She alleged the uncle did not make the child available to her during her time. She sought criminal and civil contempt, additional periods of possession, and attorney’s fees. She also asked the court to clarify the original order if it found any part of it was insufficiently specific to be enforced through contempt.