Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
No. 11-02-00369-CV, 7/10/2003. Family Law Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: R.A.H. was born on April 18, 1995. On June 3, 1997, Robert Luis Avila filed a petition for voluntary paternity of R.A.H. The trial court held a hearing on the petition on Aug. 27, 1997. On Sept. 26, 1997, the trial court entered a decree of paternity establishing Avila as the father of R.A.H. On Sept. 26, 2001, Christopher R. Jojola filed a petition to contest acknowledgment of paternity and a petition to establish his paternity of R.A.H. Avila filed a motion to dismiss Jojola’s petition, arguing that Jojola had no standing to bring the petition and that the suit was barred by limitations. On Oct. 29, 2002, the trial court entered an order dismissing Jojola’s petition, stating that the claim was barred by limitations. It is from this order that Jojola appeals. HOLDING: Affirmed. The appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding that his petitions to contest acknowledgment of paternity and to establish his paternity were barred by limitations, that the trial court erred in finding that Avila’s paternity was adjudicated on Aug. 27, 1997, and that the trial court did not consider the best interest of the child in dismissing Jojola’s petition. Texas Family Code �160.609(b) provides: “[i]f a child has an acknowledged father or an adjudicated father, an individual, other than the child, who is not a signatory to the acknowledgment or a party to the adjudication and who seeks an adjudication of paternity of the child must commence a proceeding not later than the fourth anniversary of the effective date of the acknowledgment or adjudication.” Avila contends that �160.609(b) does not apply and that the court should apply the law in effect in 1997 which barred a suit seeking to establish parentage for a child with an adjudicated father. The court disagrees. Chapter 160 of the Family Code is to be applied and construed to promote uniformity of the law among the states that enact the Uniform Parentage Act. The Historical and Statutory Notes with respect to �160.001 state: “The change in law made by this Act applies to a motion or other request for relief made in a parentage or paternity proceeding that is commenced on or after the effective date [June 14, 2001] of this Act. A motion or request for relief in a parentage or paternity proceeding commenced before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect at the time the proceeding was commenced, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.” Because Jojola filed his petition contesting acknowledgment of paternity and seeking to establish his paternity of R.A.H. on Sept. 26, 2001, the court finds that the current �160.609(b) is applicable. In a letter to counsel, the trial court stated that paternity was adjudicated on Aug. 27, 1997, the date of the hearing on Avila’s petition for voluntary paternity. The trial court later entered an order finding that Jojola’s claim was barred by limitations. Section 160.609(b) allows an individual to bring a proceeding for adjudication of paternity not later than “the fourth anniversary of the effective date of the acknowledgment or adjudication.” The question before the court is the “effective date” of the adjudication establishing Avila as the father of R.A.H. A judgment routinely goes through three stages: 1. rendition; 2. signing; and 3. entry. General Electric Capital Auto Financial Leasing Services Inc. v. Stanfield, 71 S.W.3d 351 (Tex.App. – Tyler 2001, pet’n den’d). The judgment becomes effective once it is “rendered.” A judgment is “rendered” when the matter submitted to it for adjudication is officially announced either orally in open court or by memorandum filed with the clerk. Samples Exterminators v. Samples, 640 S.W.2d 873 (Tex.1982). The subsequent reduction of the pronouncement to a writing signed by the court is a ministerial act of the court provided for in Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 306a(2). Rule 306a(2) calls for “all judgments, decisions and orders of any kind to be reduced to writing and signed by the trial judge with the date of signing stated therein.” This does not change the date of a prior rendition to the date of the signing of the written draft. A judgment is “entered” when it is spread upon the minutes of the trial court by a purely ministerial act of the clerk of the court, and “entered” is synonymous with neither “signed” nor “rendered” when used in relation to a judgment or the date of the judgment. Oak Creek Homes Inc. v. Jones,758 S.W.2d 288 (Tex.App. – Waco 1988, no writ). The trial court’s docket entries state that on Aug. 27, 1997, the trial court 1. found that Avila admitted paternity of R.A.H.; 2. established Avila as the possessory conservator of R.A.H.; and 3. arranged the visitation schedule for R.A.H. The record indicates that the trial court rendered its judgment adjudicating Avila to be the biological father of R.A.H. on Aug. 27, 1997. Therefore, Jojola had four years from the effective date of the adjudication, Aug. 27, 1997, to bring his suit challenging the adjudication. Because Jojola filed his suit contesting Avila’s acknowledgment of paternity for R.A.H. on Sept. 26, 2001, the trial court did not err in finding the suit barred by limitations. OPINION: Arnot, C.J.; Arnot, C.J., and Wright and McCall, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.