Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
IN THE INTEREST OF N.V.R., D.A.R., AND J.T.R., CHILDREN
Submitted: August 30, 2017
Appeal from the 307th District Court Gregg County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2007-2400-DR
Morriss, C.J., Moseley and Burgess, JJ.
R. Morriss, III Chief Justice
result of the most recent order affecting the parent-child
relationships among the parents, William Runnels and Domanita
Craddock-Neal, and their three children, Natasha, Jamal, and
Devin,  what previously had been essentially equal
parental rights were strengthened for Domanita and weakened
for William. On appeal, William argues that, in the latest
hearing, the trial court erroneously admitted therapy notes
from his children's counselor into evidence, abused its
discretion in entering the modification order, and erred in
assessing attorney fees against him. We affirm the trial
court's judgment because (1) Runnels failed to preserve
his objection to the admission of the therapy notes, (2) no
abuse of discretion is shown in the entry of the modification
order, and (3) no abuse of discretion is shown in the
assessment of attorney fees.
a bit more background is in order. In 2010, the trial court
had appointed William and Domanita joint managing
conservators of their children, Natasha, Jamal, and Devin, in
a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR). The
2010 order recited that "the primary residence of the
children [was to] be Longview Independent School District,
" but did not specify which parent had the right to
designate the primary residence of the children. Because
William and Domanita had equal possession of the children
under the order, neither was ordered to pay child support.
During the school year, William and Domanita traded
possession of the children each week.
2016, after finding the "week-on week-off "
possession schedule unsuitable, William filed a petition to
modify the 2010 order. William alleged that the circumstances
of the parties had materially and substantially changed,
requested that he be allowed to designate the primary
residence of the children, sought possession pursuant to a
standard possession order, and asked the trial court to order
Domanita to pay child support. Domanita filed a
counter-petition to modify the 2010 order. Her petition,
which also sought the imposition of a standard possession
order, asked that she be allowed to designate the
children's primary residence and collect child support
an evidentiary hearing, in which William appeared pro se, the
trial court determined that the circumstances of the parties
had materially and substantially changed since the 2010
order, gave Domanita the right to designate the
children's primary residence, and ordered William to pay
child support. The trial court further determined that
William was to have possession of all of his children
"[o]n weekends that occur[red] during the regular school
term, beginning at the time the child's school [was]
regularly dismissed, every other Friday and ending at the
time the child's school resume[d] the following
Monday." Additionally, William would have possession of
Jamal and Devin "[o]n Mondays that occur[red] during the
regular school term, beginning at the time the child's
school [was] regularly dismissed every Monday and ending at
the time school resume[d] on the following Tuesday."
Holidays were divided in the same manner as in the 2010
possession order to ensure, generally, that each parent had
equal time with the children.
time of the final hearing, Natasha was fourteen, Devin was
thirteen, and Jamal was eleven. The trial court heard
testimony from William, Domanita, and Camella Jones, a
licensed professional counselor.
testified that, since the 2010 order, Domanita had married
Johnny Neal. William accused Neal of abusing the children. He
testified that Neal had cussed at Jamal, told him that he was
"stupid, " and hit Jamal in the head when he would
not go to bed. William also testified that Neal hit Devin
with a bag of Legos after Devin refused to clean the house.
Citing the fact that Domanita worked two jobs, William
complained that the children were often left in Neal's
care and alleged that Domanita was a neglectful parent.
William also complained that Domanita had borrowed money from
Natasha and accused Domanita of being late to drop off the
children on August 26, 2016.
denied that she had ever interfered with William's
possession schedule and asserted that William was mistaken
about what time he was entitled to possess the children on
August 26. She informed the trial court that William did not
always answer her telephone calls or return her text
messages, which created difficulty in their relationship.
Domanita, who worked full time at Good Shepherd Medical
Center and part-time at a clothing store, testified that Neal
took care of the children when she was not at home. Domanita
denied any physical abuse of the children. She further
testified that William told the children not to speak to her
when they were in his possession and called Domanita
"tricky" in front of the children. Domanita also
testified that William was claiming the children as
dependents on his tax returns in years when Domanita was
entitled to claim them as dependents.
also testified about the impact of the temporary orders on
the children. She testified that Natasha could not focus and
that Jamal and Devin had been suspended after fighting in
school. During her cross-examination, Domanita admitted that
she had placed Jamal and Devin in another school within the
Longview Independent School District without consulting
William. Their new school was closer to Domanita's home,
which she represented to the school as the children's
primary residence. Domanita testified that William's
decision to file the SAPCR had distressed the children, who
were in counseling with Jones.
testified that, on two occasions, she met with Natasha, who
was "struggling with a lot of guilt and responsibility
for the relationship distress between her parents."
Jones' therapy progress notes-the admission of which are
challenged on appeal by William-reflected that, according to
Natasha, William became angry when Domanita was not exactly
on time for exchanges of possession. Natasha said, "I
worry what [William] will say or do when he gets mad, "
and added, "I get tired of [William] saying my mama is a
liar." According to Jones, Natasha expressed her wish to
live full-time with her mother while visiting with William
one or two days per week. Jones opined that Natasha was
"extremely emotionally stressed" and required a
change in her living situation to prevent being placed on
"medicinal intervention to manage depressive and anxiety
also met with Jamal and Devin on three occasions. Jones
testified that Jamal described Neal as "mean, " but
did not mention any physical abuse to her. According to the
therapy progress notes, Jamal said, "I love my dad and I
have fun with him. But, I am so scared to tell him how I
really feel. He'll get mad." He made no negative
statements about William, but stated that he wanted more time
with Domanita, worried about her, and wondered if she still
testified that Devin wanted to see his mother every week.
Devin's therapy progress notes reflected that he did not
want to upset William, wanted equal time with both of his
parents, and wished for a possession schedule that was not
confusing. According to Jones' notes, Devin told her,
"[M]y dad mostly hate[s] my mom. He talks about her
tricks, but I don't think she's tricky."
on statements made during therapy sessions, Jones' notes
concluded that, although all three children loved and wanted
to be with both of their parents, William had purposefully
divided the family. William had also filed a complaint
against Jones alleging that she had impersonated a Child
Protective Services worker at the children's school.
Jones denied the allegation. William, who read Jones'
negative comments about him in the therapy progress notes,
complained that Jones had never met with him before making
her recommendations. He informed the trial court that he
objected to Jones' counseling of the children.
William Failed to Preserve His Objection to the Admission of
the Therapy Notes
appeal, William argues that the trial court should have
excluded Jones' notes under Rule 403 of the Texas Rules
of Evidence. We find that he has failed to preserve this
appellate point for our review.
a prerequisite to presenting a complaint for appellate
review, the record must show that: (1) the complaint was made
to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion
Tex.R.App.P. 33.1(a)(1). William referred to Jones'
therapy notes during his own testimony. When Jones'
therapy notes were later offered into evidence, William
stated, "It's my first time seeing them. Other than
that, I don't have any objection." William failed to
argue that the notes should be excluded under Rule 403.
Therefore, he did not preserve his ...