Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
IN THE INTEREST OF B.C. AND A.B., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 320th District Court Potter County, Texas
Trial Court No. 91, 445-D-FM, Honorable Carry A. Baker,
CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.
Mother attempts to appeal an order
terminating her parental rights to her children, B.C. and
A.B. Because her notice of appeal was filed untimely, we
dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction.
Department of Family and Protective Services filed suit for
protection and conservatorship of the children and to
terminate mother's parental rights. The matter was
referred to an associate judge and a final hearing was held
on May 13, 2019. Three days later, on May 16, the parties
were notified by email of the substance of the associate
judge's report to the referring court. The associate
judge signed a proposed order of termination on June 11,
14, 2019, mother filed a request for de novo hearing before
the referring court. At the start of the de novo hearing on
August 14, 2019, the Department objected to the timeliness of
mother's de novo request. The referring court found that
the request was filed untimely, denied the request, and
signed an "Order Adopting Associate Judge's Proposed
Order." Mother filed a notice of appeal that day.
case is tried before an associate judge, the associate judge
must provide a written report to the referring court,
including any proposed order, and provide the parties notice
of the substance of the report. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
201.011 (West 2014). A party may request a de novo hearing
before the referring court by filing a written request not
later than the third working day after the date the party
receives notice of the substance of the associate judge's
report. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 201.2042(a) (West
2014), 201.015(a) (West Supp. 2018). If a request for a de
novo hearing is not timely filed in a child protection case,
the proposed order of the associate judge becomes the order
of the referring court by operation of law without
ratification by the referring court. Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 201.2041(a) (West 2014).
case, the record shows that mother received notice of the
substance of the associate judge's report on May 16,
2019. In re K.R.M., No. 11-15-00032-CV, 2015
Tex.App. LEXIS 8821, *2 (Tex.App.-Eastland Aug. 21, 2015, no
pet.) (mem. op.) (finding that appellant received notice of
the substance of the associate judge's report by email).
Accordingly, her request for de novo hearing was due within
three working days, by May 21, 2019. Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 201.015(a). Mother did not file a request for de novo
hearing until June 14, 2019. Because her request was untimely
filed, the associate judge's proposed order signed on
June 11, 2019, became the order of the referring court by
operation of law without ratification by the referring court.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 201.2041(a); In re L.G.,
517 S.W.3d 275, 276-77 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2017, pet.
denied). And, the appellate timetables began to run from this
notice of appeal was, therefore, due within twenty days after
the associate judge signed the order of termination, by July
1, 2019. Tex.R.App.P. 26.1(b). This deadline could have been
extended to July 16, 2019, had mother filed a notice of
appeal and a motion for extension within the fifteen-day
extension period. See Tex. R. App. P. 26.3;
Verburgt v. Dorner, 959 S.W.2d 615, 617 (Tex. 1997).
Mother did not file a notice of appeal, however, until August
letter of September 10, 2019, we notified the parties that
the notice of appeal appeared untimely and directed them to
show how we have jurisdiction over the appeal. In
mother's response, she argues that under section
201.016(b) "the date an order or judgment by the
referring court is signed is the controlling date for the
purposes of appeal, " except for certain circumstances
not present here. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 201.016(b) (West
Supp. 2018). Therefore, she claims, the appellate timetables
did not begin until the referring court signed the order of
the termination on August 14, 2019.
analyzing how sections 201.016 and 201.2041 apply in this
case, our primary goal is to ascertain and give effect to the
Legislature's intent. In re Canales, 52 S.W.3d
698, 702 (Tex. 2001). An appellate court must not interpret a
statute in a manner that renders any part meaningless or
superfluous. See City of Marshall v. City of
Uncertain, 206 S.W.3d 97, 105 (Tex. 2006). When a
general statutory provision conflicts with a more specific
provision, the provisions must be construed so as to give
effect to both. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 311.026(a)
201 of the Family Code contains four subchapters governing
associate judges. While subchapter A applies generally to all
family law matters referred to an associate judge, subchapter
B applies specifically to Title IV-D cases, subchapter C
applies to child protection cases, and subchapter D applies
to juvenile cases. Under section 201.016, found in subchapter
A, the date the referring court signs a proposed order is the
controlling date for purposes of appeal, unless the proposed
order is an agreed order, a default order, or a final order
where the parties have waived the right to a de novo hearing.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 201.016(b), (c);
201.007(a)(16) (West Supp. ...