Appeal from the 505th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 14-DCV-212649
consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.
BRETT BUSBY, JUSTICE
appellant H.A., D.A.'s father, appeals from the award of
attorney's fees rendered when the trial court modified
the parent-child relationship following a bench trial.
D.A.'s mother filed her appellee's brief responding
to Father's fee challenge. Mother moved to dismiss
Father's appeal under Rule 42.3(c) for flagrantly
violating the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure regarding
briefing. Finally, Mother asked this Court to sanction Father
pursuant to Rule 45 for filing a frivolous appeal.
overrule Father's challenge to the trial court's fee
award because the record on appeal does not contain a
complete reporter's record and we must, therefore,
presume the omitted evidence supports the trial court's
order. We deny Mother's motion to dismiss because Father
substantially complied with the Rules of Appellate Procedure
regarding briefing. Finally, exercising our discretion under
Rule 45, we deny Mother's request for sanctions against
sparse, the record reveals the following background facts and
procedural history. Father and Mother were divorced in 2009.
At the time of the divorce, they had a single child, D.A.
Under the terms of the original Agreed Decree of Divorce,
Father and Mother exchanged possession of D.A. at a Houston
bookstore. Several years later, Mother filed a motion to
modify the parent-child relationship. In her motion, Mother
asked the trial court to alter the location for exchanging
D.A. from the bookstore to a Houston police station.
thereafter, Mother filed an amended petition to modify the
parent-child relationship. Mother alleged in the amended
petition that Father had a history of neglecting D.A. Based
on that allegation, Mother asked the trial court to deny
Father access to D.A. or, alternatively, require that his
visitation with D.A. be supervised. Mother also asked the
trial court to determine whether there was a risk of
international abduction and, if so, take the measures it
deemed necessary to protect D.A., including designating her
as the parent with the exclusive right to hold and maintain
D.A.'s passport. Mother also asked the trial court to
increase the amount of child support Father was required to
pay. Finally, Mother sought recovery of the attorney's
fees she incurred as a result of filing the petition.
October 13, 2015, Father filed a two-page document styled:
"Defendant's Motion to review new evidence provided
by defendant's insurance company, Motion for summary
judgment, Motion to dismiss due to lack of evidence and deny
attorney bill, review six trial reset requests by
plaintiff's attorney, continuous requests for continuance
and second court notification of counsel's failure to
comply with court order." Mother filed a response asking
the trial court to quash Father's various motions and to
award her sanctions for the attorney's fees she incurred
having to respond to Father's motions and other court
filings. The trial court granted Mother's motion, quashed
Father's October 13 filing, found that Father had filed
frivolous pleadings, and then sanctioned him $1, 500, payable
to Mother's attorney.
dispute went to trial before the bench on January 20, 2016,
and the trial was completed the next day. Our appellate
record does not contain a reporter's record of the trial.
The trial court found in Mother's favor. The court
subsequently signed an Order in Suit to Modify Parent-Child
Relationship (1) changing the location for exchanging
possession of D.A. from the bookstore to a designated Houston
police station; (2) granting Mother exclusive control over
D.A.'s passport; (3) eliminating Father's Thursday
visitation during the school year; and (4) assessing
Mother's attorney's fees, totaling $16, 826, against
Father. This appeal followed.
Because there is no reporter's record, we must presume
the evidence supports the trial court's award of
attorney's fees to Mother.
argues that the trial court abused its discretion because
insufficient evidence supports the award of attorney's
fees to Mother's attorney. In family law matters, the
trial court has broad discretion in awarding attorney's
fees. London v. London, 192 S.W.3d 6, 19 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, pet. denied) (citing Tex.
Fam. Code Ann. § 106.002 (West 2014)). Under section
106.002 of the Family Code, the trial court may render
judgment for reasonable attorney's fees and order them
paid directly to the attorney. Watts v. Oliver, 396
S.W.3d 124, 133 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no
pet.). The award must be supported by evidence. London v.
London, 94 S.W.3d 139, 146 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 2002, no pet.). A trial court does not abuse its
discretion if an award of attorney's fees is supported by
the evidence. Id. at 147 n.3.
absent a complete reporter's record of the proceedings,
reviewing courts must presume that the evidence before the
trial court was adequate to support the trial court's
decision. See In re D.A.P., 267 S.W.3d 485, 487
(Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, no pet.) (applying
presumption in jurisdiction analysis); London, 94
S.W.3d at 143 ("Therefore, in considering
[appellant's] issues on appeal, we must presume the
omitted portions of the record support the judgment of the
trial court."). Because there is no reporter's
record of the bench trial, ...