In a recent Texas domestic violence decision, the plaintiff appealed from the lower court’s judgment granting his divorce petition. The couple had married in 1999 and had eight kids. After 15 years of marriage, the husband sued for divorce.
At the divorce trial, the primary issue was who should have conservatorship of the eight kids. The parents and a counselor who prepared a social study testified. The father argued there was credible evidence showing that the mother had a history of past or present physical abuse against him and that the lower court was prevented from appointing him and the mother as joint managing conservators. The father also argued the lower court should appoint him sole managing conservator. Alternatively, he argued the lower court should appoint him joint managing conservator with exclusive right to determine their primary residence.
The mother argued that the lower court wasn’t prevented from appointing her and the father as joint managing conservators. The mother also argued that the lower court should appoint her the joint managing conservator with exclusive right to decide the primary residence.
The lower court granted the divorce and appointed the father and mother joint managing conservators. The lower court found there was no credible evidence that should lead it to do otherwise. The father had the right to designate the oldest child’s primary residence, while the mother had the right to designate the other seven kids’ residence. The lower court restricted the kids’ residence to a county in Texas. The lower court ordered an extended possession order and ordered the father to pay child support. It decided that the mother owed the father $200 for childcare expenses. The father appealed.
He represented himself and argued that the lower court had put unreasonable time limits on presenting evidence, which denied his fundamental due process rights. The lower court has the inherent power to control how cases are disposed. The court’s inherent power gives it broad discretion in the handling of trials. Under the Texas Rules of Evidence, the court is supposed to use reasonable control over witness examination to avoid time wastage. In this case, the lower court told the lawyers they’d only have 30 minutes to put on their cases. The father hadn’t used all of the time and didn’t object to the time allocated to himself, so he hadn’t preserved his complaint for appellate review.
The father also argued that the lower court had abused its discretion by finding no credible evidence of a history or pattern of past or present physical abuse by the mother against him. He argued that in light of evidence shown at trial, the lower court was prevented from appointing joint managing conservators and was required to appoint him sole managing conservator.
The main consideration in deciding conservatorship is the child’s best interests under Texas Family Code section 153.002. The lower court has broad discretion over this because it’s in the best position to look at the witnesses and determine their credibility. Unless evidence shows that both parents being appointed as joint managing conservators is not in a child’s best interest, the court is supposed to presume it is. The father pointed to evidence of the police being sent to the home, where the father claimed that the wife had physically abused him. She’d, in fact, pled no contest to a charge of felony assault. The appellate court noted that the facts and circumstances of the incidents were disputed, and the lower court was entitled to believe the mother’s account of what happened.
For these and other reasons, the lower court’s judgment was affirmed.
If your divorce involves matters related to child custody, call the Texas attorneys at the McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200.
More Blog Posts: