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In re Dixon

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

May 8, 2019

IN RE Christina Marie DIXON

          Original Mandamus Proceeding [1]

         PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS CONDITIONALLY GRANTED

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice, Beth Watkins, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BETH WATKINS, JUSTICE

         Relator, Christina Dixon, asserts the trial court abused its discretion by denying her plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens in the underlying suit affecting the parent-child relationship. We conditionally grant the petition for writ of mandamus.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2015, Christina and real party in interest, David Richardson, obtained a divorce in Texas. They have one child, I.R. At the time of the divorce, Christina was granted the right to determine I.R.'s primary residence without geographic restrictions. In August 2017, Christina moved with I.R. to Virginia where they presently live with Christina's current husband. In November 2018, David filed a "Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship" in which he asked to be appointed the person with the right to determine I.R.'s primary residence or, alternatively, that the terms of possession and access be modified. Christina then filed a "Plea to the Jurisdiction Or, In the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss Forum Non Conveniens." Following a February 15, 2019 hearing, the trial court signed an order denying Christina's plea and motion. Christina filed her petition for writ of mandamus asserting the trial court erred by denying her plea to the jurisdiction and her motion to dismiss. David filed a response.

         EXCLUSIVE CONTINUING JURISDICTION

         No party disputes that the Texas court has continuing jurisdiction in this case. However, Texas Family Code section 152.202 addresses a Texas court's continuing jurisdiction over child-custody matters after the initial determination:

Except as otherwise provided in Section 152.204, a court of this state which has made a child custody determination consistent with Section 152.201 or 152.203 has exclusive continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:
(1) a court of this state determines that neither the child, nor the child and one parent, nor the child and a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state concerning the child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships; . . . .

Tex. Fam. Code § 152.202(a)(1).

         Section 152.202(a)(1) "specifically provides that a court retains exclusive continuing jurisdiction until it determines that the significant-connection and substantial-evidence requirements are no longer met." In re Forlenza, 140 S.W.3d 373, 376 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding) (emphasis in original).

         A. ...


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