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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The relator, Jason Michael Ferguson (Ferguson) seeks a writ of mandamus compelling the judge of the 1st District Court of Jasper County to grant his motion to transfer venue of a petition to modify in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, and to enter an order transferring venue to Jefferson County. On Nov. 30, 2004, Ferguson filed a petition to modify the parent-child relationship in the Jasper County district court having continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, in Cause No. 19,654. Along with his petition to modify, Ferguson also filed his motion to transfer. Contained in his motion as “Grounds for Transfer,” was the following averment: “The principal residence of the child is in JEFFERSON County, Texas, and has been in that county during the six-month period preceding the commencement of this suit. Venue is proper in that county.” Hope Lelay Ferguson Hood Durham (Hope) answered suit, and subsequently filed a controverting affidavit and an amended controverting affidavit. Neither affidavit denied that she and her child D.T.F. were living in Jefferson County at the time Ferguson filed the motion to transfer. The affidavits did explain that D.T.F., Hope, Hope’s new husband, and another child had planned to move to Jasper County. HOLDING:Conditionally granted. Texas Family Code 155.203 requires the trial court to look to the child’s “principal residence” during the period in question. The order for which Ferguson seeks modification was rendered in Jasper County in Cause No. 19,654. Hope’s handwritten change of address notice to the Jasper County district clerk’s office referenced it to “cause no 19654.” Hope’s July 10, 2003, notice clearly designated the address listed in Jefferson County as her residence and as D.T.F.’s residence, as required under the Texas Family Code. Unless other written designation by Hope was made subsequent to July 10, 2003, to the Jasper County district clerk and/or to Ferguson indicating a “current residence” in Jasper County, the Jefferson County address was D.T.F’s “principal residence” for purposes of compliance with standard Texas court orders in suits affecting the parent-child relationship, the court concludes. Hope’s attempt to distinguish the legal concepts of “domicile” and “residence” do not aid her under the particular facts in the record before respondent at the time of his ruling, the court finds. Hope’s contention at the hearing was that she proved that Jasper County was her and D.T.F’s permanent place of residence by proving “dual residency.” She points to In Re: Estate of Steed, 152 S.W.3d 797 (Tex. App. – Texarkana 2004, pet. filed), for the proposition that a person may have only one domicile, but there may be several residences. Steed involved determination of the proper venue in a probate matter. As noted in Steed, the general elements proving the legal concept of “domicile” are: 1. an actual residence, and 2. the intent to make it a permanent home, with the word “home” being treated as meaning “a true fixed and permanent home and principal establishment, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning.” The record indicates that the “actual residence” in Jasper where Hope, D.T.F., and the rest of the family stayed on weekends and holidays belonged to Cindy Durham. There was no testimony that Cindy Durham’s home was intended to be Hope’s permanent residence. Cindy Durham’s testimony indicated that Hope and her husband were “looking at various homes” over a six- or seven-month period prior to the hearing. With regard to the Jefferson County address, Hope’s affidavits and testimony indicated it was never intended to be her permanent residence but was used merely to facilitate her husband’s access to his job in Beaumont. In essence, the record is silent as to any evidence of “permanence” with regard to either the Jefferson County address or the Jasper County address, the court finds. The undisputed evidence is that the Jefferson County address was the one Hope designated as her residence with the Jasper County District Clerk’s office. The fact that D.T.F. was enrolled in a Jefferson County school until after the hearing date indicates the principal fixed residence for Hope, D.T.F. and the rest of the family for at least six months prior to the filing of Ferguson’s petition to modify was Jefferson County. Documents also before the trial court indicate that on two separate occasions Hope was served with civil process at the Jefferson County address. OPINION:Per curiam; McKeithen, C.J., Gaultney and Kreger, JJ.

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