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Sandoval v. Martinez

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

December 17, 2019

BEATRICE SANDOVAL, Appellant
v.
DANIEL MARTINEZ, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 246th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2015-60445

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Landau and Hightower.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHERRY RADACK CHIEF JUSTICE

         This is an appeal from the trial court's order modifying the parent-child relationship, which removes appellant, Beatrice Sandoval, and appellee, Daniel Martinez, as joint managing conservators of their minor son, and makes Daniel the sole managing conservator and Beatrice the possessory conservator. In two issues on appeal, Beatrice contends that the trial court erred in (1) finding that changed circumstances support the modification and (2) entering a judgment that did not take into consideration Beatrice's two other minor children in setting child support and did not impose a geographic limitation to Texas on Daniel's right to designate the child's primary residence. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Beatrice and Daniel are parents of a child, DMJ, [1] who was two years old at the time of trial. On February 24, 2016, while the child was an infant, Beatrice and Daniel entered into an "Agreed Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship." Under this original agreed order, both parents were appointed joint managing conservators, with Beatrice having the exclusive right to designate the child's primary residence, which was required to be "in HARRIS or any contiguous county."

         Thereafter, the relationship between the parents deteriorated, and Beatrice was arrested and charged with assaulting Daniel's new girlfriend, Katie, during an exchange of possession in September 2016.[2]

         In December 2016, Beatrice took the child to live with her mother in California. Her other children were already there, and she wanted to join them. She also claimed that she moved because she was having trouble financially and that she was frightened of Daniel.

         On March 10, 2017, Daniel filed an "Emergency Motion to Modify Conservatorship and Possession or Access," alleging that Beatrice had "violated the present orders of this court" and had prevented Daniel from "seeing the child for the last four months." Beatrice returned to Texas with the child sometime that same month. Before the motion to modify went to trial, the trial court signed temporary orders placing the child with Daniel.

         Daniel's motion to modify went to trial on March 26, 2018. At trial, both parties testified and presented evidence about their difficult relationship. Specifically, there was evidence about Beatrice's assault against Daniel's now-wife, Katie. There was also evidence of violence against Daniel, Beatrice's older daughter, and injuries to Beatrice and Daniel's two-year-old child while he was in Beatrice's care. Daniel testified that since the child was returned to his possession, the child also showed signs of aggressive behavior. When Daniel took the child to the doctor, the medical records note that the child was aggressive with the medical professionals. Finally, both Daniel and Beatrice testified about the almost four- month period, during which Beatrice took the child and moved to California to live with her mother.

         At the close of the trial, the trial court stated:

I find there has been a change in circumstance. I find that the respondent mother has committed family violence. I am appointing the father as the sole managing conservator of the child, the mother as the possessory conservator of the child. He may determine the residence of the child within the State of Texas.
The respondent has a modified standard possession order, which would be all of the standard possession order without Thursdays. Pickup and return will be at the petitioner's residence unless the parties can agree otherwise.
Respondent is to pay child support based on a gross income of $400 a week with the offset for her other children beginning April 1st, 2018, by wage withholding. Petitioner is to provide the health insurance for the child, and the parties will both pay one-half of the uninsured medical support as child ...

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