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Caballero v. Caballero

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

December 14, 2017


         On Appeal from the 280th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2016-15733

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Busby, and Jewell.


          J. Brett Busby Justice

         Appellee Maria Christian Caballero applied for a protective order against her former husband, appellant Humberto Fabian Caballero. After a hearing in which both Maria and appellant testified, the trial court granted Maria's application, issuing a two-year final protective order. Appellant challenges the trial court's order in three issues.

         In his first issue, appellant asserts that the final protective order infringes on certain constitutionally protected rights, and thus the applicant should be required to meet a burden of proof higher than preponderance of the evidence. We overrule this issue because the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence adequately protects appellant's parental rights. Appellant argues in his second issue that he received inadequate notice of the hearing on Maria's request for a protective order. We overrule this issue because appellant failed to preserve it for appellate review by first raising it in the trial court. Finally, in his third issue, appellant contends that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the trial court's findings that family violence had occurred and was likely to occur in the future. Having reviewed the record, we conclude the evidence is sufficient and overrule this issue. We therefore affirm the trial court's order.


         Maria testified that she met appellant in February 2012. They married in November 2012 and divorced in January 2013. They had no children together. According to Maria, they attempted a reconciliation several months later, but it was unsuccessful. They then had an on-and-off relationship that finally ended in June 2015. Appellant was subsequently warned by the management of Maria's apartment complex against trespassing on the property. Because of her interactions with appellant at her apartment complex, Maria moved in with her daughter for a time in October or November 2015. Despite moving, Maria discovered that appellant followed her places and showed up at her place of work.

         In December 2015, appellant came to Maria's apartment in the early morning hours and banged on her door. Appellant later confronted Maria in the parking lot of her apartment complex and demanded to know if she was dating a man who drove a black truck.

         Appellant confronted Maria again on New Year's Day of 2016. This incident occurred when Maria pulled her car into a restaurant parking lot. Maria's boyfriend was with her in the car. Appellant pulled up behind Maria's car. Appellant then approached Maria's car and banged on her window while screaming at her. Maria quickly drove away from the restaurant. Appellant then approached a friend of Maria's boyfriend, who was still at the restaurant, and demanded that he tell appellant the name of Maria's boyfriend.

         Later that same day, Maria went to her daughter's home. While she was still there, appellant drove up in front of the house and started screaming at her. Appellant told Maria that she should have informed him that she had a new boyfriend. Appellant left when Maria threatened to call the police. During this same period, appellant made phone calls to members of Maria's family telling them that he believed she was a drug addict and a prostitute.

         Maria testified that appellant called Children's Protective Services, telling them that she was unfit to be around her grandson. According to Maria, CPS required that she move out of her daughter's home. Maria testified that she had to move into a hotel because she could not return to her own apartment given that appellant knew the location and had stalked her there.

         In another incident, appellant blocked Maria's car with his truck while she was at a local gas station. Appellant screamed at Maria, once again accusing her of being a prostitute and drug addict. Maria felt threatened because she did not know what appellant would do. Maria tried to leave the station, but her vehicle was blocked by appellant's truck, so she notified the police. The police reviewed the gas station's surveillance video and warned appellant to leave Maria alone.

         In other incidents, appellant again followed Maria to the same gas station. Appellant also followed her into a resale shop. Maria explained that this incident alarmed her because the only way he could have found her in the store was to follow her from her workplace. Appellant asked Maria to move back in with him. Maria testified that appellant follows her constantly and she "can't go anywhere without him showing up."

         Finally, in an incident that occurred about three weeks before the hearing, appellant followed Maria and her boyfriend when they left Maria's daughter's home. Appellant was driving a rental car. Appellant approached so close that he almost hit the rear of Maria's car. Maria tried to get away from appellant but had to stop at a red light. Appellant then got out of his car, walked up to Maria's car while it was stopped at the red light, and started ...

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