The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Texas recently heard two unique appeal cases coming from family law courts, which often do bring the most bizarre cases. Each one has interesting circumstances and intriguing conclusions.
Appeals – Third Time is Not the Charm
In the first case (In re P.A.C. and K.V.C.), two ex-spouses, Marisa and Daniel, had been granted joint managing conservatorship (JMC) of both their children with Daniel having been named the primary parent. Initially, whenever Marisa would be conservator of the children, the access would need to be supervised and she would have to complete full psychological evaluation. Daniel proceeded to have the court modify existing court orders to have her supervised access requirements extended.
Marisa would later request a standard possession order (SPO) to gain more access to her children through custody and visitation, but Daniel would contest her. The case was taken before a jury, who found that Marisa should not be given any primary rights and that Daniel should be given the exclusive right to consent to the children’s marriages and to be their legal representatives in any sort of action; Daniel had not requested these exclusive rights.
Marisa appeals the court’s decision, first claiming her request to be named sole managing conservator (SMC) was ignored, but it was found that she did not make this request in her pleading. She would go on to cite a second issue in her appeal, arguing that Daniel had not requested the exclusive rights granted and therefore should not have been given them; the Court of Appeals showed that anyone with SMC would automatically gain those exclusive rights, whether they wanted them or not. Thirdly and lastly, Marisa’s appeal claimed the court abused its discretion by limiting her possession and visitation rights; the court would conclude that evidence of her psychological instability – which included email transcripts of her claiming Daniel worshipped Satan and would meet the President of the United States if the case went forward – was more than enough for their limitations, which are somewhat rare in JMC cases.
Attorney Ad Litem Denied
In the second case Vargas v. Vargas, a case handled by our team at the Springer Law Firm, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals had to rule on whether or not attorney ad litem denials were justified. The case involved Nilson and Jessica, who had divorced after it was discovered that Nilson had committed sex crimes with two young boys. Nilson was originally given access to his children through supervised visitations but Jessica would later decide that this was not safe or comfortable for her or her kids.
The case was set for trial and Nilson requested an attorney ad litem but he was denied; the court determined that no attorney would be necessary because the trial process should allow them to understand the entire story from both sides without issue. During the trial, Jessica provided her testimony and evidence to support her request to remove Nilson’s visitation rights; when called to the bench, Nilson pleaded the Fifth, fearing that any testimony would incriminate himself further in this ongoing criminal investigation. He also did not provide any evidence whatsoever for his defense.
When the trial court ruled that Nilson should not have regular access to the kids but instead be limited to only 32 hours each month of supervised visitations, he appealed. The appeal he filed cited the denial of attorney ad litem; he believed he could have made a better case with an attorney’s help, who may have also granted him access to a psychological expert for testimony and evaluation.
The Court of Appeals denied his appeal request, citing that he had made no effort to present any evidence or argument on his behalf. Additionally, he only chose to file an appeal once he decided he did not like the outcome of the trial, despite his appeal being based on a pretrial decision.
Clearing Up Confusion
Cases like the two aforementioned are prime examples of what makes family law so deceptively complicated. Little nuances in cases can arise and make something that seems like a straightforward issue quite complex, ultimately requiring the attention of the Court of Appeals, or higher. If you are entering into a family law dispute or divorce case, make certain you know what to expect and that you have planned for anything by working with Springer Law Firm PLLC. Contact our Katy divorce attorneys today for support from a team with more than 65 years of combined legal experience.