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In re T.V.S.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

June 15, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF T.V.S., A.N.N., CHILDREN

         On Appeal from the County Court at Law Moore County, Texas Trial Court No. CL141-99, Honorable Delwin T. McGee, Presiding

          Before QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          James T. Campbell Justice.

         Appellant Adam Nanez, proceeding pro se, appeals the trial court's order confirming a child support arrearage. He challenges the order through two issues. We will affirm.

         Background

         The Office of the Attorney General of Texas, as the state's Title IV-D agency, [1]brought suit against Adam Nanez seeking modification of the child support provisions of the August 2000 divorce decree that ended his marriage to Candace Michelle Svenningson, formerly Candace Michelle Deatherage, and seeking confirmation of, and judgment for, a child support arrearage. Nanez is the father of Svenningson's two children, T.V.S. and A.N.N. The decree ordered Nanez to pay child support of $325.00 per month and then $260.00 per month when T.V.S. reached majority age.

         Nanez has been incarcerated since 2002. The Attorney General's financial activity report for Nanez's account reflects a child support payment only on one occasion, in January 2006. We will discuss that payment later in our opinion.

         At trial of the case, the Attorney General did not pursue its request for modification, noting the older child had reached adulthood and the younger child was soon to do so. After hearing evidence, the trial court granted a cumulative judgment in the amount of $40, 350.11.[2] On appeal, Nanez challenges the order confirming the child support arrearage.

         Analysis

         Both the issues Nanez raises on appeal challenge the jurisdiction of the trial court to adjudicate his child support arrearage.

         Standard of Review

         Subject-matter jurisdiction is essential to the authority of a court to decide a case. Kendall v. Kendall, 340 S.W.3d 483, 495 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, no pet.), (citing Bland Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Blue, 34 S.W.3d 547, 553-54 (Tex. 2000)). Whether a court has jurisdiction is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. City of Elsa v. Gonzalez, 325 S.W.3d 622, 625 (Tex. 2010); Holmes v. Williams, 355 S.W.3d 215, 218 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, no pet.).

         Jurisdiction

         The facts underlying Nanez's jurisdictional issues are undisputed. Nanez first argues that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the Attorney General's suit because it amounted to an impermissible appeal of a prior order of the trial court. We cannot agree. The Attorney General's suit asked the court to modify the child support provisions of the divorce decree signed August 14, 2000, and to confirm and enter judgment for the child support arrearage. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.001 (court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction may modify order that provides for support); § 157.005(b) (time limitations ...


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