IN THE INTEREST OF A.D.C. AND E. N.C., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 318th District Court Midland County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. FM 50087.
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
M. Bailey, Chief Justice.
appeals the trial court's order granting Mother's
petition to modify the parent-child relationship with their
children, A.D.C. and E. N.C. The trial court entered the
order based upon the jury's verdict in favor of Mother.
Father brings two issues on appeal. We affirm.
and Mother are the parents of A.D.C. and E. N.C. On February
25, 2010, the trial court entered a final decree of divorce
dissolving their marriage. The divorce decree appointed
Father and Mother as joint managing conservators of the
children. Under the divorce decree, neither parent had the
exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the
children. Instead, the divorce decree provided as follows:
[T]he primary residence of the children shall be restricted
to Midland County, Texas and any county contiguous thereto,
and the parties shall not remove the children from Midland
County, Texas and any county contiguous thereto for the
purpose of changing the primary residence of the children
until modified by further order of the court of continuing
jurisdiction or by written agreement signed by the parties
and filed with the court.
the divorce decree provided that the parties would have equal
possession of the children to be exercised on alternating
18, 2015, Mother filed a petition to modify the parent-child
relationship based upon an allegation of a material and
substantial change in circumstances. In the petition, Mother
requested that she be permitted to designate the primary
residence of the children without regard to geographic
restriction. Mother also requested the trial court to
implement a standard possession order to modify Father's
access and possession. Subsequently, Father filed a
counterpetition to modify the parent-child relationship
seeking to be the parent to designate the primary residence
of the children.
trial court considered the petitions seeking modification at
a final hearing conducted as a bench trial on November 12,
2015. The trial court notified the parties of its decision in
a letter ruling issued on that date. The trial court
subsequently entered a written order on January 20, 2016,
wherein it denied each party's request seeking
appointment as the conservator with the exclusive right to
designate the children's primary residence. Furthermore,
the trial court did not modify the prior order restricting
the children's primary residence to Midland County or
counties contiguous thereto. In its findings of fact and
conclusions of law, the trial court found that modification
was not in the best interests of the children. Accordingly,
the provisions of the divorce decree remained intact with
respect to the parents' possession of the children and
the children's residence.
January 11, 2016, Mother filed a new petition to modify the
parent-child relationship. In this petition seeking to modify the
terms of the divorce decree, she alleged a material and
substantial change based upon an allegation that the paternal
grandfather was arrested for indecency with a child in
January 2016. The alleged victim was not one of the children
that are the subject of this appeal. Mother sought
appointment as the person with the authority to designate the
primary residence of the children. Mother also sought to deny
Father access to the children until a doctor had the
opportunity to evaluate the children. Mother also requested
temporary orders seeking this requested relief.
February 12, 2016, the trial court held a hearing regarding
Mother's request for temporary orders. The trial court
orally pronounced that a material and substantial change
warranted the parties' appointment as temporary joint
managing conservators with Mother appointed as the parent
with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence
of the children.
April 20, 2016, the trial court entered written temporary
orders with respect to the February 12, 2016 hearing. These
written orders contained a finding that the children's
circumstances had materially and substantially changed since
the rendition of the most recent final order. The trial court
appointed both parties as temporary joint managing
conservators and gave Mother the exclusive right to designate
the primary residence of the children within Midland County.
The trial court also adopted the standard possession order
regarding Father's access to and possession of the
children, and it prohibited contact with the paternal
grandparents. Father subsequently filed a counterpetition for
the same relief and requested a jury trial on the matter.
Mother later filed a supplemental motion to modify the order
to remove the prior geographic restriction of Midland County
and adjacent counties.
December 12, 2016, a jury trial on the parties' requested
modifications began. After hearing the evidence, the jury
returned a verdict to the effect that the 2010 divorce decree
should be modified. The jury determined that Mother should
have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence
of the children with geographic restrictions. The geographic
restriction imposed by the jury was Midland County, within a
150-mile radius of Midland County, or within a ...