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Goss v. Goss

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

January 10, 2018

Andrew GOSS, Appellant
v.
Shakia GOSS, Appellee

         From the 45th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2015-CI-02273 Honorable Larry Noll, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Karen Angelini, Justice Marialyn Barnard, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Karen Angelini, Justice

         Andrew Goss appeals from the trial court's judgment granting his petition for divorce. Although represented by counsel at trial, Andrew appears pro se in this appeal. In three issues, Andrew argues the trial court abused its discretion by (1) placing time limits on the presentation of evidence at trial; (2) appointing him and his former wife, Shakia Goss, joint managing conservators of their children; and (3) miscalculating the amount of money Shakia owed him for child-care expenses. We overrule all three issues and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Andrew and Shakia were married in 1999. The couple had eight children. On February 10, 2015, after more than fifteen years of marriage, Andrew filed a petition for divorce. In response, Shakia filed an answer.

         The case was tried to the court. At trial, the primary contested issue was conservatorship of Andrew and Shakia's eight children. Three witnesses testified: Andrew, Shakia, and the counselor who had prepared the social study. In closing arguments, Andrew argued that credible evidence had been presented showing that Shakia had a history or pattern of past or present physical abuse against him, and therefore, the trial court was precluded from appointing him and Shakia joint managing conservators. Andrew further argued that the trial court should appoint him sole managing conservator. Alternatively, Andrew argued that the trial court should appoint him the joint managing conservator with the exclusive right to determine the children's primary residence.

         On the other hand, Shakia argued that the trial court was not precluded from appointing her and Andrew joint managing conservators. Shakia further argued that the trial court should appoint her the joint managing conservator with the exclusive right to determine the children's primary residence.

         After considering the evidence and the arguments presented, the trial court granted the divorce and appointed Andrew and Shakia joint managing conservators. The trial court found that "no credible evidence [] exists that would cause the Court to do otherwise." The trial court appointed Andrew the joint managing conservator with the right to designate the primary residence of the oldest child, and Shakia the joint managing conservator with the right to designate the primary residence of the other seven children. The trial court restricted the residence of the children to Bexar County, Texas. Additionally, the trial court ordered an extended standard possession order. The trial court also ordered Andrew to pay child support. Because it concluded that Shakia owed Andrew $200.00 for child-care expenses, the trial court applied a $200.00 credit to Andrew's first child support payment. Andrew appealed.

         Time Limit at Trial

         In his first issue, Andrew argues the trial court abused its discretion by placing unreasonable time limits on the presentation of evidence at trial. Andrew asserts that he was only able to offer ten percent of his evidence, and that he was denied "his fundamental due process right of being heard."

         Every trial court has the inherent power to control the disposition of the cases on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. State v. Gaylor Inv. Trust P'shp, 322 S.W.3d 814, 819 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, no pet.). The trial court's inherent power along with the applicable rules of procedure and evidence give it broad, but not unfettered, discretion in handling trials. In the Interest of Z.C.J., No. 04-12-00010-CV, 2012 WL 3597209, at *3 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2012, pet. denied). Under Rule 611 of the Texas Rules of Evidence, the trial court should exercise reasonable control over the examination of witnesses and the presentation of evidence to avoid wasting time. Tex. R. Evid. 611(a)(2).

         As a prerequisite to presenting a complaint for appellate review, the record must show that the complaint was made to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion. Tex.R.App.P. 33.1(a)(1). In addition, error may not be predicated on a ruling excluding evidence unless the party informs the trial court of the substance of the evidence by an offer of proof. Tex. R. Evid. 103(a)(2). When a trial court limits the amount of time a party has to present its case, and thereby prevents a party from presenting all of its evidence, the party must object to the time limit and make an offer of proof of the evidence it was prevented from presenting to preserve error on appeal. In re Ludington, No. 01-16-00411-CV, 2017 WL 219162, at *4 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, orig. proceeding); In the Interest of A.E.A., 406 S.W.3d 404, 420 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2013, no pet.).

         Here, the record shows that at the beginning of the trial, the trial court stated: "I have told the lawyers in keeping with the time announcement that was made yesterday that I'm allotting you 30 minutes each to put on your case." (emphasis added). Thus, the record shows that the time limits placed on the presentation of evidence were based on the parties' representations to the trial court about the amount of time they needed to try the case. Furthermore, the record does not show that Andrew used all of the time allocated to him to put on his case. Andrew testified on his own behalf at trial. When Andrew ...


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