Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

J. W. v. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

August 20, 2019

J. W., Appellant
v.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Appellee

          FROM THE COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 1 OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY NO. 18-0068-CPSC1, THE HONORABLE BRANDY HALLFORD, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Chief Justice Rose, Justices Triana and Smith

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GISELA D. TRIANA, JUSTICE.

         This is an appeal from a final order terminating the parental rights of appellant J.W. (the father) to his children, J.L.W. and B.W. In two issues on appeal, the father asserts that the trial court's failure to follow the requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) deprived the trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction and violated the father's due-process rights. We will affirm the trial court's order.

         BACKGROUND

         The father was married to the children's mother, H.W., in Nevada, where the children were born. In April 2017, a Nevada court signed a divorce decree granting the mother full custody of the children. On or about January 15, 2018, the mother moved with the children to Texas. The father remained in Nevada, where he is currently incarcerated for assaulting the mother.

         In April 2018, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department) filed suit to terminate the parental rights of the father and the mother, alleging, among other grounds for termination, that the father and mother had knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the children to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the children and engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the children with persons who engaged in conduct which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the children. See Tex. Fam. Code § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E). The Department also alleged that the trial court had "emergency and/or home state jurisdiction under the [UCCJEA]." However, the petition did not specify that there had been a prior custody determination in another state.[1] The trial court proceeded to enter temporary orders for the protection of the children.

         On August 16, 2018, the Department filed its "Amended Motion Regarding Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement." In the motion, the Department asserted the following:

The State of Texas has jurisdiction to render temporary orders for the protection of the children the subjects of this suit pursuant to Subchapter C, Chapter 152, Texas Family Code. The home state of the children was Nevada prior to the commencement of this proceeding. The children were brought to Texas on or about 2017.
Jurisdiction is more convenient in Texas as the children and the mother reside in Texas, the removal was completed in Texas, and all services to be completed by the family are in Texas. No suit for a child custody determination has been filed within 12 months of the original SAPCR. Additionally, the only party remaining in Nevada is incarcerated and incapable of substantially participating in the case.
The Department asks that the Court find that the State of Texas is the home state of the children the subject of this suit and has jurisdiction pursuant to Subchapter C, Chapter 152, Texas Family Code, to render final orders for the custody of this child.

         On November 8, 2018, the mother filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting that the Nevada court that signed the divorce decree retained continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the custody issues concerning the children. The following day, the trial court conferred with the Nevada court via a telephonic hearing. Although a transcript of that hearing is not in the record before us, [2] it is undisputed that during the hearing, the Nevada court determined that Texas was the more convenient forum and deferred jurisdiction to Texas. The mother filed a motion to reconsider, which the Nevada court denied on December 18, 2018.

         On January 29, 2019, the trial court held a hearing on the mother's plea to the jurisdiction and the Department's amended motion regarding the UCCJEA. After taking the matter under advisement, the trial court granted the Department's motion and denied the mother's plea to the jurisdiction.

         The case proceeded to a jury trial in April 2019. Prior to trial, the mother filed a motion for continuance, asking the trial court to reconsider her plea to the jurisdiction. The trial court denied the request. During trial, the mother signed an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of her parental rights, which the trial court accepted. The jury continued to hear evidence concerning the termination of the father's parental rights. At the conclusion of trial, the jury found by clear and convincing evidence that the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.