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Gault v. Gault

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

August 26, 2019


          On appeal from the 107th District Court of Cameron County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Longoria and Hinojosa



         This is an appeal arising from a divorce between appellant Rosa Linda Sanchez Gault and appellee William Gault. By fifteen issues which we consolidate into five, Rosa Linda argues that the trial court: (1) did not have subject matter jurisdiction; (2) abused its discretion when it ordered a name change; and erred when it (3) ordered a permanent injunction enjoining her from contacting her ex-husband's family; (4) issued a judgment nunc pro tunc; and (5) granted a motion for new trial. We reverse and render in part and affirm in part.

         I. Background

         William and Rosa Linda married on February 11, 2017. Six months later, William filed for divorce claiming the marriage had become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities. In conjunction with the divorce proceedings, William sought and received a temporary restraining order enjoining Rosa Linda from communicating or coming within 200 feet of William's six children from a prior marriage, including his daughter with special needs, and his father who suffers from dementia.

         At the final divorce hearing, William proved up the jurisdictional facts showing that both parties had been Texas residents for six months, and Cameron County residents for ninety days, prior to the hearing. William further testified that Rosa Linda had violated the temporary restraining order on numerous occasions. He presented cell phone records showing that she repeatedly called his elderly father James at his nursing home. She also allegedly used a third party's cell phone to gain access to James to speak poorly of William and William's decision to file for divorce. William shared that these acts made it difficult for him to tend to his father's medical and housing needs as his court-appointed guardian because sometimes his father refused to speak to him because of something Rosa Linda expressed. William testified that Rosa Linda once encouraged James to meet her at a local McDonald's where they would not be seen together by anyone they knew. William finally urged the court to change Rosa Linda's surname back to Sanchez, a name she bore for more than twenty years prior to their marriage, to diminish Rosa Linda's ability to interfere in his family matters.

         Rosa Linda's counsel responded that although her answer to the divorce petition requested the court to revert her last name back to Sanchez, upon reconsideration, Rosa Linda wished to keep her Gault last name. The trial court, in granting the divorce, sided with William and ordered Rosa Linda's name changed back to Sanchez. He also granted a permanent injunction to prevent Rosa Linda from contacting William's family.

         Rosa Linda motioned for a new trial solely to contest the name change; she did not object to or seek to relitigate the permanent injunction. During the hearing on her motion, Rosa Linda re-urged her desire to keep her Gault surname. She admitted that while she had some accounts in her former Sanchez name, she also had accounts under her Gault name, which she had changed at the request of William. The hearing record showed that Rosa Linda violated her temporary restraining order on more than one occasion by sitting in the pew directly in front of William and his family during Sunday church while wearing a t-shirt that belonged to William's late wife. The t-shirt had been hand-painted by William's late wife and depicted the six children as bumble bees buzzing around a deer stand with a sign on the deer stand that stated, "Mom is inside." The record also revealed that Rosa Linda used her Gault name to contact William's adult daughter enrolled at a special needs university to gain inappropriate access to her.

         After the hearing on the new trial, the court signed a new judgment titled "nunc pro tunc." It clarified that the permanent injunction enjoined Rosa Linda from "communicating in any way, in person, electronically, by phone, email, or text or coming within 200 feet of [William's] sons and daughter and Mr. James Gault, [William's] father."

         The court also made the following findings:

a. The Court finds [Rosa Linda] was married to Juan Sanchez in 1984 and [Rosa Linda] took the surname Sanchez making her name Rosa Linda Sanchez. [Rosa Linda] divorced Juan Sanchez in about 1987 but kept the surname Sanchez. This was her first marriage.
b. The Court finds [Rosa Linda] married Mario Sanchez in 2001 and divorced in 2004 but the divorce was not final until 2006. This was her second marriage.
c. The Court finds [Rosa Linda] has retained the surname Sanchez from 1984 until her marriage ...

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