Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont
Submitted on February 27, 2018
Appeal from the 1st District Court Jasper County, Texas Trial
Cause No. 28319
McKeithen, C.J., Kreger and Johnson, JJ.
JOHNSON Justice .
and J.F. had one child, R.F. M.F. appeals the trial
court's Order on First Amended Motion to Disqualify
Attorney and Order in Suit to Modify Parent-Child
Relationship. On appeal, M.F. argues (1) the trial court
abused its discretion in denying her First Amended Motion for
New Trial; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in
ordering M.F. to pay R.F.'s attorney $16, 729.00 in
attorney's fees; (3) the trial court erred in issuing a
withholding order for payment of attorney's fees; (4) the
trial court abused its discretion in denying M.F.'s
Motion to Disqualify Attorney; and (5) the trial court abused
its discretion in finding that J.F. did not unlawfully
intercept M.F.'s electronic communications. We affirm in
part and reverse and remand in part.
R.F.'s father, filed a First Amended Petition to Modify
Parent-Child Relationship and pleaded that R.F.'s
circumstances had materially and substantially changed since
the date of rendition of the prior order. J.F.'s petition
requested that, among other things, the trial court terminate
the parental rights of R.F.'s mother, M.F., and name J.F.
as R.F.'s sole managing conservator. M.F. filed a
Counter-Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. On July
6, 2015, M.F. also filed an amended motion to disqualify
J.F.'s attorney, and alleged that J.F.'s attorney
"used and disclosed illegally intercepted electronic
communications in violation of Federal and State
laws[.]" The trial court considered the motion and
signed an order denying the motion on August 26, 2015.
pretrial hearing on March 11, 2016, the trial court adjourned
to allow the parties to continue their mediation from the
previous day. The trial court was then notified that an
agreement had been reached, the agreed terms were read into
the record, and the trial court orally ruled on the remaining
disputed terms. The court approved the agreement:
[THE COURT:] So, I'm telling you this: I'm approving
of your agreement. I've resolved in my mind the two
outstanding issues that were left. I'm going to grant
[M.F.] the overnight on Tuesday on the fourth weekend -- of
the fourth week. I'm not going to do a specific
allegation as to [M.F.'s sister]. . . .
Does everyone understand my order?
[J.F.'s counsel]: Yes, your Honor.
[R.F.'s attorney]: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Who's going to draft it?
[R.F.'s attorney]: I am.
THE COURT: How long do you think it will take you to draft
[R.F.'s attorney]: Well, two weeks is Good Friday. So,
maybe the following week. I think it's the 1st of April.
THE COURT: There's no way we could do it by the 21st?
[R.F.'s attorney]: Yes.
THE COURT: Well, okay. Today is the 11th. The 25th will be
two weeks. I will be back -- so, let's do it April 4th. I
am back in the country then.
And what we'll do is disseminate it. If everybody
doesn't sign off on it, then we all have to come back
down here on the 4th. . . .
At this time I approve the orders. I've made my rulings
as to the two disputed issues. I find that these orders are
in the best interest of the child, and I will set this for
entry of judgment on April the 4th.
counsel then asked to be able to question her client on the
[M.F.'s counsel]: You and I had an opportunity to talk
about this agreement that the Court has adopted and put into
an order; is that correct?
[M.F.'s counsel]: Has anyone attempted to influence you
or force you into signing this agreement?
[M.F.'s counsel]: And you do believe that after
consulting with me and having counsel go through each step,
that this is in ...