Appeal from the 328th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 16-DCV-233665
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and
V. Keyes, Justice.
suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR), Erin
Broussard appeals the trial court's modification order
designating Roy Arnel sole managing conservator of their
child, I.A. In four issues,  Broussard challenges the trial
court's order denying her plea to the jurisdiction,
arguing that the trial court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction to render its modification order due to
I.A.'s emancipation by marriage during the pendency of
the modification suit.
conclude that the trial court did not err in denying
Broussard's plea to the jurisdiction, and, accordingly,
we affirm the trial court's modification order.
and Arnel were divorced after fourteen years of marriage on
July 20, 2010. The divorce decree named the parties joint
managing conservators of their two minor children, I.A. and
K.A., and gave Broussard the exclusive right to designate the
children's primary residence.
5, 2016, Arnel filed a petition to modify. The petition, as
amended, sought the exclusive right to designate the
children's primary residence. Trial began in June 2017,
but was continued several times.
October 22, 2017, while trial was in recess, Broussard
reported to her counsel that I.A. had run away. Then on
November 6, 2017, Broussard filed a plea to the jurisdiction,
informing the court and Arnel that I.A.-who was 15 years old
at the time-had traveled to Missouri three days earlier and
married a 26-year-old woman. Broussard contended that, as a
result of the marriage, I.A. was now emancipated and thus was
no longer subject to her control or the trial court's
SAPCR jurisdiction. She acknowledged that the marriage is
void under Texas law, but argued she that the trial court
should recognize it nonetheless because it is legal and valid
under Missouri law, which, at the time, permitted the
marriage of a 15-year-old with parental consent. Broussard
argued that Missouri law applies to determine the validity of
I.A.'s marriage, and, in the alternative, that the trial
court should recognize the Missouri marriage under the
principles of comity and the Full Faith and Credit Clause of
the United States Constitution. See U.S. Const. art.
IV § 1.
filed a response, stating that, at the time of the marriage,
the parties were under temporary orders requiring Broussard
to consult with him before making significant decisions
affecting I.A. He argued that Texas law applies to determine
the validity of I.A.'s marriage and asked the trial court
to declare the marriage void under Family Code section 6.205,
which states that a marriage to which either party is under
the age of 18 is void "unless a court order removing the
disabilities of minority of the party for general purposes
has been obtained in this state or in another state."
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.205. Arnel argued
that because I.A. had not obtained a court order-in Texas or
Missouri-removing the disabilities of his minority, he was
not legally married under Texas law. See id.;
see also id. § 2.003 ("A person under 18
years of age may not marry unless the person has been granted
by this state or another state a court order removing the
disabilities of minority of the person for general
purposes."). He also argued that neither comity nor full
faith and credit requires recognition of a marriage that is
void as against Texas public policy.
November 30, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on
Broussard's plea to the jurisdiction. After hearing
argument, the trial court orally denied Broussard's plea
and found that the marriage was void. The court issued
emergency temporary orders giving Arnel exclusive
decision-making authority regarding I.A. and requiring
Broussard to cooperate with police in the investigation of
December 15, 2017, Broussard filed a "motion for
reconsideration and new trial" on her plea to the
jurisdiction. In it, she stated that she consented to
I.A.'s marriage after he contacted her and told her that
if she did not consent she would never see him again.
December 18, 2017, the trial court signed an order denying
Broussard's plea to the jurisdiction, declaring
I.A.'s marriage void under Texas law and against
"good morals and natural justice," and declining to
extend the marriage full faith and credit, "as such
recognition would be in violation of established Texas public
January 5, 2018, Broussard filed a mandamus petition with
this Court. She argued that the trial court abused its
discretion by refusing to recognize I.A.'s Missouri
marriage in violation of the principles of comity and by
denying her parental right to consent to her son's
marriage in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due
Process Clause. This Court denied the mandamus petition
without substantive opinion on October 16, 2018.
of Arnel's modification suit resumed on April 30, 2018
and concluded on July 2, 2018. On July 3, 2018, the trial
court rendered judgment appointing Arnel sole managing
conservator and Broussard possessory conservator of I.A.
31, 2018, Broussard filed a motion for new trial, attaching
as an exhibit a Missouri circuit court judgment, rendered on
February 15, 2018, in a declaratory judgment action brought
by I.A.'s wife. The Missouri judgment states that the
marriage "entered into on November 3, 2017 was, and
continues to remain, valid pursuant to the laws of the State
of Missouri, including, but not limited to any and all
statutory requirements set forth in Section 451 [Revised
Statutes of Missouri] governing the validity of a Missouri
marriage." This was the first time Broussard had brought
this judgment to the trial court's
attention. Broussard argued that the trial
court's declaration that the marriage was void violated
the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States
Constitution. Specifically, she argued that she was
"attempting to have the Court recognize the marriage-not
enforce it-and by recognizing the valid marriage the Court
would be required to dismiss the case due to lack of
jurisdiction (i.e. it did not have jurisdiction over the
Missouri citizen [whom I.A. married])."
filed a response, arguing, among other things, that the trial
court should not consider the Missouri judgment because it
was not authenticated. On August 9, 2018, after a
non-evidentiary hearing, the trial court orally denied
Broussard's motion for new trial.
appeals the trial court's denial of her plea to the
argues that the trial court erred in denying her plea to the
jurisdiction because I.A.'s Missouri marriage divested
the trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction. Specifically,
she argues that (1) I.A. was emancipated by his Missouri
marriage; (2) Texas law does not apply to determine the
validity of I.A.'s Missouri marriage; (3) I.A. was
married in accordance with Texas law; and (4) Texas must
recognize I.A.'s marriage as valid under the Full Faith
and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.
Standard of Review ...