Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from the 362nd District Court Denton County, Texas
Trial Court No. 18-4392-362
Pittman, Birdwell, and Bassel, JJ.
K.T. (Aunt) attempts to appeal the trial court's April 9,
2019 "Interlocutory Final Order of Termination,
Modification, Removal of Conservatorship in Suit Affecting
the Parent-Child Relationship" (interlocutory final
order). The interlocutory final order, which followed a bench
trial, terminates Mother D.T.'s parental rights and the
parental rights of L.T.'s father and removes Aunt as
L.T.'s sole managing conservator, but the order does not
address the parental rights of Respondent Father H.J.,
alleged father of four of Mother's other children who are
subjects in the suit. We notified Aunt of our concern that we
lack jurisdiction over this appeal because the interlocutory
final order does not appear to be either a final judgment or
an appealable interlocutory order, and we stated that this
appeal could be dismissed absent a response showing grounds
for continuing it. Aunt responded, but her response does not
show grounds allowing us to continue the appeal.
appellate jurisdiction of appeals from final judgments and
from interlocutory orders that the Texas Legislature has
specified are appealable. Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp.,
39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex. 2001); see, e.g., Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014. Texas Family Code
Section 109.002 allows a party to appeal a final
conservatorship or termination order. Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 109.002(a), (b). No statute provides that an order
which fails to resolve a termination petition against
respondent parents who were not served and who did not waive
service is an appealable interlocutory order.
final and appealable, a judgment must dispose of all parties
and all issues. Lehmann, 39 S.W.3d at 195. While a
presumption arises that a judgment rendered after a
conventional trial on the merits is final, N. E. Indep.
Sch. Dist. v. Aldridge, 400 S.W.2d 893, 897-98 (Tex.
1966), that "presumption can be rebutted by a contrary
showing in the record." Lehmann, 39 S.W.3d at
the record rebuts the Aldridge presumption by
revealing that the allegations to terminate H.J.'s
parental rights remain pending, the interlocutory final order
is not a final judgment and therefore not
appealable. See id.; In re M.G.F.,
No. 04-15-00591-CV, 2016 WL 519650, at *2 (Tex. App.-San
Antonio Feb. 10, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.) (holding order not
disposing of intervention not final); cf. In re
F.M.-T., No. 02-12-00522-CV, 2013 WL 1337789, at *1
(Tex. App.-Fort Worth Apr. 4, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.)
(dismissing appeal for want of jurisdiction when the trial
court's order did not terminate the rights of the
presumed father of one of the children). First, on
the same date that the trial court signed the interlocutory
final order, it signed an order extending the dismissal date
and final trial date and stating:
[H.J.'s adult son] was properly served and contacted the
Department the day of trial and informed the Department that
he is not a father of any of these children and further
advised [his] father [H.J.] is the father of possibly several
children in this cause. The Department contacted [H.J.] and
he . . . acknowledged he is the father of [one of the
children] and possibly the father of [two others].
Second, the interlocutory final order expressly
notes that H.J. had not been served.Third, the
interlocutory final order indicates that the suit had not
been finally disposed of by continuing the appointments of
the children's attorneys ad litem and guardian ad litem
"until further order of th[e Trial] Court or final
disposition of this suit." Fourth, the
interlocutory final order does not contain a Mother Hubbard
clause or any clear language of finality but
instead orders that "ALL OTHER ORDERS OF THE COURT
REMAIN IN FULL FORCE AND IN EFFECT."
Finally, the trial court has not ordered a
severance. See Thompson v. Beyer, 91 S.W.3d 902, 904
(Tex. App.-Dallas 2002, no pet.) ("As a rule, a
severance of an interlocutory judgment into a severed action
makes it final if all claims in the severed action have been
disposed of . . . ."); see also In re C.H., No.
02-09-00060-CV, 2009 WL 1564936, at *1 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth
June 4, 2009, no pet.) (per curiam) (mem. op.) (citing
Thompson and noting in dismissing termination appeal
for want of jurisdiction that trial court case remained
pending regarding father's rights and appellant mother
had not sought severance).
we dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction. See
Tex. R. App. P. 42.3(a), 43.2(f).
Had the interlocutory final order
expressly stated that the allegations against H.J. would be
handled in a separate trial, no presumption of finality would
have arisen. See Vaughn v. Drennon, 324 S.W.3d 560,
562-63 (Tex. 2010).
A fifth amended petition was filed two
weeks after the interlocutory final order, and H.J. was