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Young v. Young

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

June 19, 2019

Florenca Torres-Kapitzky YOUNG, Appellant
Jacob Kyle YOUNG, Appelle

          From the 198th Judicial District Court, Kerr County, Texas Trial Court No. 17810B Honorable M. Rex Emerson, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Beth Watkins, Justice, Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice.


          Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice.


         Florenca Torres-Kapitzky Young appeals a decree of annulment asserting the trial court abused its discretion by: (1) failing to provide her reasonable notice of the trial setting; (2) failing to grant her a continuance; (3) failing to provide her with an interpreter; and (4) dividing the parties' property.


         Florenca, who is a Brazilian national, and Jacob Kyle Young were married in California on June 13, 2017. Three months after Florenca and Jacob married, they arrived in Texas where they planned to live. On September 11, 2017, Jacob asked Florenca for an annulment based on some information he discovered about her, and Florenca returned to California.

         On September 22, 2017, Jacob filed a petition to annul the marriage. On January 30, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on Florenca's motion to dismiss, and Jacob's motion to abate. Florenca's Texas attorney was present at the hearing, and Florenca was present by telephone at the office of her California attorney. Evidence was presented that Florenca's California attorney had filed a petition in California seeking a legal separation; however, questions were raised regarding Florenca's residency status, and Jacob had not been served in that lawsuit. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court granted the motion to abate the cause until March 1, 2018 because Jacob had not met the residency requirements for filing the petition.

         On April 5, 2018, the trial court signed an order referring the cause to mediation. The mediator's report stated the mediation was cancelled because Florenca failed to appear. The report further stated Florenca's Texas attorney tried to contact Florenca's California attorney; however, she did not receive any response.

         On June 4, 2018, Florenca's Texas attorney filed a motion to withdraw stating she was unable to effectively communicate with Florenca in a manner consistent with good attorney-client relations. The trial court signed an order granting the motion on June 27, 2018.

         On June 28, 2018, the trial court signed an order setting a bench trial for August 9, 2018, to consider the annulment. The order stated notice of the setting was sent to Florenca at her last known address; however, the clerk's record shows that notice was returned to sender.

         On August 9, 2018, Florenca appeared at trial and acknowledged her understanding that she was before the court for a final hearing. After Jacob's attorney questioned him, Florenca was given the opportunity to question Jacob; however, she elected not to question him. Jacob's attorney then called Florenca as a witness. In response to the second question asked by Jacob's attorney, Florenca requested an interpreter. The trial court denied the request stating she was required to make the request before trial and further stated, "I have watched you throughout the testimony of Mr. Young, and you understood every single question and you responded to every single answer."

         After Jacob's attorney finished questioning Florenca, the trial court gave Florenca the opportunity to "tell [her] side of the story within the Rules of Evidence." Florenca then proceeded to narrate her version of the relationship. After completing her testimony, Florenca asked the trial court if she could provide him with documents she referred to as "proofs." The trial court instructed her she needed to introduce them in accordance with the Rules of Evidence. At that time, Florenca asked, "Should I get days to get a lawyer since my first lawyer gave up on the case?" The trial court responded the matter was set for a final hearing and denied her request for additional time to find an attorney.

         Jacob's attorney recalled Jacob as a witness to refute certain statements made by Florenca during her testimony after which Florenca asked Jacob a few questions on cross-examination. Florenca then sought to introduce documents into evidence a second time and was again told she needed to comply with the rules for admitting evidence. In response to her statement that English was not first language, the trial court stated, "your English is extremely good. I would compliment you on your English language that you have learned. You can communicate very well. … I ...

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