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In re Barrett

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

December 23, 2013

In re Donald Eugene Barrett

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING FROM BLANCO COUNTY

Before Chief Justice Jones, Justices Puryear and Field

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Scott K. Field, Justice

Relator Donald Eugene Barrett filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus after the trial court held him in contempt for failure to comply with temporary orders it had previously entered in the divorce proceedings between Donald and his wife, Hope Barrett.[1] See Tex. Gov't Code § 22.221(d). Specifically, the trial court found that Donald had violated its temporary orders regarding the couple's possessory rights to their children and, based on these violations, ordered Donald to serve jail time and pay a fine. See Tex. Fam. Code §§ 105.001(f), 157.001.

The primary issue in this original proceeding is whether the terms of the underlying temporary orders are definite and certain enough to be enforced by contempt. We hold that they are not. Donald also seeks relief from the trial court's modified temporary orders, which he asserts the trial court granted without proper notice. We are unable to grant relief on this issue because it is beyond our habeas corpus jurisdiction. We therefore grant the petition in part and dismiss it in part for lack of jurisdiction.

ANALYSIS

Upon the request of Donald and Hope, the trial court entered temporary orders in the parties' divorce proceeding concerning their rights and responsibilities. These temporary orders include a possession order relating to their three children, A.B., R.B., and I.B. The relevant portion of the temporary orders provides:

Possession Order

It is ORDERED that DONALD EUGENE BARRETT, shall have unsupervised visitation with the children every other weekend, beginning July 12, 2013, starting on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending on Sunday at 8:00 p.m.
Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms of Possession
IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Possession Order.
Undesignated Periods of Possession
HOPE LIANNA BARRETT shall have the right of possession of the child[ren] at all other times not specifically designated in this ...

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