Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
David E. Jones, Appellant
Jessica L. Jones, Appellee
THE 250TH DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO.
D-1-FM-13-001139, THE HONORABLE GISELA D. TRIANA, JUDGE
Chief Justice Rose, Justices Kelly and Smith.
L. Kelly, Justice.
David E. Jones appeals the trial court's final order in a
child-support enforcement action brought by his ex-wife,
Jessica L. Jones. See Tex. Fam. Code §§
157.001-.426 (enforcement proceedings). In six issues, David
challenges the trial court's awards of unreimbursed
medical expenses and attorney's fees. For the reasons set
forth below, we will affirm.
and Jessica were divorced in January 2015 and have three
children. In part, the couple's final divorce decree
requires David to make periodic child-support payments
through the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, Child
Support Division (the "Attorney General"). The
decree also requires Jessica and David each to pay 50 percent
of the children's healthcare expenses not reimbursed by
insurance, with the non-incurring party paying his or her
portion of the uninsured healthcare expenses either by paying
the healthcare provider directly or by reimbursing the
October 2017, Jessica filed a "motion for enforcement of
child support order and unreimbursed medical expenses."
In March 2018, following a hearing on the motion, the trial
court signed an order requiring David to pay $16.60 in
unreimbursed medical expenses. See id. §§
157.161-.168 (hearing and enforcement order). In addition,
the trial court determined that two years earlier, a
different trial court judge had heard another motion for
child-support enforcement filed by Jessica and had signed an
order that required David to pay $2, 466.25 in attorney's
fees to Jessica's attorney pursuant to Section 157.167 of
the Texas Family Code. See id. § 157.167
(respondent to pay attorney's fees and costs). In its
March 2018 order, the trial court found that David had failed
to pay any of the attorney's fees as required by the
earlier order and again ordered him to pay attorney's
fees in the amount of $2, 466.25. The trial court also
ordered David to pay an additional $4, 000 in attorney's
fees incurred by Jessica in pursuing her October 2017 motion
himself pro se, David timely filed a notice of appeal from
the March 2018 order.
review a trial court's decisions regarding child support,
including a decision to award attorney's fees in a
child-support enforcement action, for an abuse of discretion.
Russell v. Russell, 478 S.W.3d 36, 47 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, no pet.); McFadden v.
Deedler, No. 03-13-00486-CV, 2014 Tex.App. LEXIS 9527,
at *3 (Tex. App.-Austin Aug. 27, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.)
("Generally, we review a trial court's decision to
grant or deny the relief requested in a post-divorce motion
for enforcement for abuse of discretion."). A trial
court abuses its discretion when it acts without reference to
any guiding rules or principles, or when it fails to analyze
or apply the law correctly. Worford v. Stamper, 801
S.W.2d 108, 109 (Tex. 1990). Applying this standard, legal
and factual sufficiency are relevant factors in determining
whether the trial court abused its discretion, but they are
not independent grounds of error. Zeifman v.
Michels, 212 S.W.3d 582, 587 (Tex. App.-Austin 2006,
extent David's issues in this appeal turn on matters of
statutory construction, we review these issues de novo.
See Tucker v. Thomas, 419 S.W.3d 292, 295 (Tex.
2013). Our primary objective when construing statutes is to
give effect to the Legislature's intent, which we
ascertain by looking to the entire act. Id. (citing
Iliff v. Iliff, 339 S.W.3d 74, 79 (Tex. 2011)).
"Where statutory language is unambiguous and only yields
one reasonable interpretation, 'we will interpret the
statute according to its plain meaning.'"
Iliff, 339 S.W.3d at 79 (quoting McIntyre v.
Ramirez, 109 S.W.3d 741, 748 (Tex. 2003)).
issues on appeal, David challenges the trial court's
award of $16.60 in unreimbursed medical expenses to Jessica.
At the hearing, Jessica presented evidence that she had
presented David with a claim for his half of an unreimbursed
dental expense for $108.00, which he did not pay. In its
order, the trial court found that David owed Jessica for this
dental expense but offset Jessica's claim by $91.40,
representing unpaid medical expenses owed by Jessica to
David. On appeal, David does not challenge these specific
findings. See Bruce v. Bruce, No. 03-16-00581-CV,
2017 Tex.App. LEXIS 4834, at *5 (Tex. App.-Austin May 26,
2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (noting that when trial court
includes findings in its judgment but does not issue any
separate findings of fact and conclusions of law, "the
findings in the judgment have probative value on
appeal"). Instead, David argues that he presented
evidence of ...