Appeal from the 309th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2014-70680
consists of Justices Keyes, Bland, and Huddle.
an appeal from a dispute between divorcing parents over the
managing conservatorship of their children. The trial court
awarded sole managing conservatorship to the father and
possessory conservatorship to the mother. The mother appeals,
contending that the trial court erred by (1) departing from
the presumption of joint managing conservatorship for both
parents; (2) violating her equal protection rights; (3)
violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights by denying her equal access before the court; and (4)
failing to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law.
abated the appeal and ordered the trial court to file
findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court
complied with our order, and the clerk has supplemented the
record on appeal to include the trial court's findings
and conclusions. We hold that some evidence supports the
trial court's order naming the father as the managing
conservator and the mother as a possessory conservator. We
further hold that the mother has not demonstrated that the
trial court violated her equal protection rights or denied
her equal access before the court. We therefore affirm.
Turrubiartes and Jose Olvera have three children, who were
born before Maria and Jose married in February 2013. The
couple separated in October 2014, following an altercation
between Maria and a next-door neighbor. The altercation
related to Maria's friendship with her neighbor's
husband and Jose's accusations of adultery made to the
neighbor and Maria. Maria left with the three children.
trial court heard testimony from Maria and Jose in connection
with determining the conservatorship of their children.
testified that, from the time of the separation until trial,
Maria had refused to disclose to Jose the location of the
children's residence. On one occasion, Maria's
brother-in-law went to Jose's house and threatened to
kill him or have him killed if he attempted to visit the
children where Maria was living. Without informing Jose,
Maria withdrew the children from the school they had been
attending in Tomball. She then enrolled them in a different
school in Magnolia. She refused to disclose to Jose the
location of the children's new school. Maria also told
the school that Jose was not allowed to take the children
discovered where the children were enrolled in school about a
month later. For the year before trial, Jose visited the
children during their school lunchtimes twice a week, but he
could not otherwise see the children because Maria refused to
provide their address and had arranged that he could not take
them from school. He also feared retaliation from her
Maria left with their children, Jose was the parent that
assisted the children with their homework. Jose stated that
he had taken the children to the doctor. Jose denied that he
ever "laid hands on [Maria] during the marriage."
Jose requested that he be appointed primary managing
conservator because Maria drove the children without a
driver's license and he was concerned about the
testified that, since the separation, she and the three
children have lived with her sister and brother-in-law. In
contrast to Jose's testimony, Maria testified that she
had not kept Jose from seeing the children, that he "has
every right to enter the house, " and that their son
"had been calling him." She could not recall a
specific time that she had permitted Jose to see the children
but stated that nothing was stopping him from visiting them.
Maria requested "custody to be 50/50 because we're
both parents." She stated that Jose had "never
really taken care" of the children and denied that Jose
had taken the children to the doctor.
denied that she had an affair with her neighbor. She
testified that she left because Jose had burned her and the
children's clothes and accused her of adultery. Maria is
an undocumented immigrant and has lived in the United States
since 2006. She drives without a driver's license. Maria
has never been the subject of any deportation proceedings,
nor has she been involved in any traffic accidents. She
testified that her attorney has a report of domestic violence
that she made in October 2014, but no report was introduced
at trial. She did not testify as to any domestic violence
before she and Jose separated. Maria planned to apply for
legal status in the month following trial.
testified that she has the children in therapy in Montgomery
County and did not inform Jose about it. Since the
separation, Maria's nephew has helped the children with
their homework. Maria denied that Jose used to help the
children with their homework. Maria stated that Jose did
"nothing" for the children.
to this appeal, the trial court found:
• The wife of a male neighbor and Maria engaged in a
dispute, subsequent to which Maria vacated her home with the
children, without notice to Jose.
• Maria's brother-in-law threatened Jose's life
if Jose came on the brother-in-law's property to see the
• After separating from Jose, Maria withdrew the
children from their school and moved them to another school
that would not ...