Sometimes courts make mistakes. When a Texas divorce court makes a clerical error, the court has the power to correct that error for a period of time, generally within 30 days. If the error is not corrected before the court’s plenary power to correct has expired, it may still be corrected by a judgment nunc pro tunc. The court may only correct a clerical error through a judgment nunc pro tunc and cannot use a judgment nunc pro tunc to correct a judicial error.
A husband recently challenged a judgment nunc pro tunc on the grounds that the alleged error in the original judgment was not a clerical error. The parties had each signed the decree and approved it in form and substance, but the wife’s attorney approved it as to form only. The divorce court and all parties also signed another document, the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), that awarded 35 percent of the husband’s military retirement pay to the wife. The divorce decree did not reflect this award.
The husband petitioned the court to amend the QDRO to match the decree, arguing the QDRO was an impermissible modification of the property division. The wife argued its omission was a clerical error in the divorce decree and that the decree was ambiguous. The husband argued the divorce court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to modify the decree.