Breaking NewsLaw.com and associated brands will be offline for scheduled maintenance Friday Feb. 26 9 PM US EST to Saturday Feb. 27 6 AM EST. We apologize for the inconvenience.

 
X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: In this termination of parental rights action, the minor child’s natural father (the “father”) appeals the trial court’s granting of Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services’ (TDPRS) plea to the jurisdiction on the ground that the order previously granting summary judgment in his favor (the order) was not a final judgment because it did not dispose of: 1. his requests for relief under ��10.001 and 105.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC); 2. both parties’ requests for attorney’s fees; 3. the costs of court; or 4. TDPRS’s alternative request to be appointed sole managing conservator. HOLDING: Affirmed. A judgment does not have to resolve pending sanctions issues to be final, and sanctions may not be imposed after the expiration of a trial court’s plenary jurisdiction. Lane Bank Equip. Co. v. Smith S. Equip. Inc., 10 S.W. 3d 308 (Tex. 2000). In this case, the father’s claims against TDPRS under the CPRC were based on allegations that the termination action was frivolous and without evidentiary support based on reasonable inquiry. Because the relief thereby sought was in the nature of sanctions, these claims did not have to be disposed of in order for the order to become final. A trial court’s failure to assess costs also does not affect the finality of its judgment. Because the attorney’s fees, if any, awarded in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship are awarded as costs, the parties’ claims for such attorney’s fees and other costs in this case did not have to be disposed of in order for the order to become final. By granting the father’s motion for summary judgment, the trial court ruled that there was no evidence to support TDPRS’s alternative request to be appointed managing conservator if the father’s parental rights were not terminated. The order thereby disposed of the alternative request. In addition, because it returned the child to the father, the order was a “final order” for purposes of cases concerning children under TDPRS care. In enacting statutes that limit the time in which such cases may be decided and appealed, the Legislature has expressed a clear intent to “ensure finality in these cases and expedite their resolution,” which is, in turn, compelled by both the fundamental liberty interest a parent has in the care, custody, and control of his or her children and the State’s foremost interest in protecting the best interest of the child. In this context, the father has not cited any: 1. authority whereby TDPRS’s request to be appointed managing conservator in this case could be considered unresolved; or 2. rationale that would support allowing the determination reflected in the order, and, thus, the child’s and father’s lives, to be left in limbo indefinitely and potentially beyond the periods in which the Legislature has mandated that such matters be concluded. OPINION: Edelman, J.

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.