Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
In the Interest of L.T.H., R.R.H., and A.W.H., Minor Children.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Charles W. McGarry, Law Office of Charles McGarry, John H. Carney, Dallas, for Appellant.
Byron K. Henry, Cowles & Thompson, P.C., Dallas, William F. Neal, Lewisville, for Appellee.
Before BRIDGES, FILLMORE, and LEWIS
Appellant Brooke Harvey Robbins appeals from the trial court's final judgment that she take nothing in her post-divorce enforcement suit against Robert Harvey. Robbins contends that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to enforce a 2007 Texas judgment that modified the parties' California divorce decree. Alternatively, Robbins contends that if the California decree could not be modified, the trial court abused its discretion by failing to enforce the California divorce decree. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.
Brooke Harvey Robbins (Robbins) and Robert Harvey (Harvey) were divorced in the State of California on October 18, 2005, pursuant to a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage which attached and incorporated a written stipulation for judgment and a written settlement agreement between the parties (the California Divorce Decree). At the time of their divorce, Robbins and Harvey had three minor children. The California Divorce Decree required Harvey to pay Robbins $30,000 per month as family support. " Family support" included both child support and spousal support. Six months later, Robbins and Harvey modified their divorce decree, adding language to make the family support payment tax deductible. A reformed marital settlement agreement was attached to the reformed decree as an exhibit and adopted in its entirety as the order of the California court (the Reformed California Divorce Decree). The California court signed the Reformed California Divorce Decree on April 27, 2006. Robbins, Harvey, and their three children moved to Texas later that year.
In December 2006, Harvey filed a petition for divorce in Collin County District Court, Texas, alleging he and Robbins had entered into a common-law marriage on or about August 15, 2005. Robbins responded by registering both the original California Divorce Decree and the Reformed California Divorce Decree with the Collin County District Court under the provisions of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). She also filed an enforcement suit seeking payment of an arrearage of family support of $90,000. On May 10, 2007, Robbins and Harvey signed a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) in the Texas divorce proceeding. According to the provisions of the MSA, the parties agreed that no common-law marriage existed, and the MSA was intended to reform the California Divorce Decree, as modified by the Reformed California Divorce Decree. The MSA stipulated the amount of arrearage and established installment payments. Harvey agreed to pay $4,000 per month in spousal support for 36 months, and $6,000 per month thereafter, until Robbins's death or remarriage. He also agreed to pay $3,000 per month in child support, to be reduced by $1,000 per month as each child became emancipated. The MSA was then incorporated into an order titled " Final Decree," dated August 22, 2007 (the 2007 Texas judgment).
In 2008, Robbins filed a motion for enforcement of the child support order and spousal support order set forth in the 2007 Texas judgment. Harvey filed a general denial. After a bench trial, the trial court signed a final order awarding Robbins judgment for unpaid spousal support plus attorney's fees. In February 2010, Robbins filed another enforcement action, alleging Harvey was again behind in payment of child support and spousal support. The parties reached a Rule 11 agreement that spousal support payable by Harvey would not increase from $4,000 to $6,000 per month until January 1, 2011. This agreement was incorporated into an Agreed Temporary Order signed by the trial court on October 14, 2010. However, in January 2011, Harvey did not pay the increased spousal support as agreed, and stopped paying spousal support altogether. Robbins amended her pending enforcement action to reflect the increased amount of unpaid spousal support. Harvey's amended answer alleged the 2007 Texas judgment was void and the court lacked jurisdiction because there was no valid court order to enforce. He also alleged various affirmative defenses. The trial court conducted a bench trial on August 10, 2011. On August 17, 2011, the trial court signed a memorandum finding that Harvey's obligation to pay spousal support to Robbins terminated as of the date Robbins began cohabitating with another man.
Robbins requested findings of fact and conclusions of law. She also filed a motion to reconsider the order terminating spousal support and a motion for new trial. Harvey filed a motion to enter judgment. On November 10, 2011, the trial court signed a final judgment that Robbins take nothing from Harvey. Robbins again requested findings of fact and conclusions of law. She also filed a notice of appeal. In January and February 2012, Robbins filed notices of past-due findings of fact and conclusions of law. On March 15, 2012, the trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions ...