Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Roosevelt P. was married to Anita. Four months after their separation, Anita gave birth to R.J.P. Anita and Roosevelt remained separated without court-ordered child support until seven years later, when the trial court signed an agreed child-support order finding Roosevelt to be R.J.P.’s biological father and ordering him to pay monthly support payments of $205. Five years later, the payments were increased to $420 as a result of Roosevelt’s increased earning capacity. After receiving notice of the requested modification, Roosevelt secured a private paternity test for himself and R.J.P., which he claims prove he is not the biological father of R.J.P. Roosevelt filed an amended divorce petition seeking to voluntarily terminate the parent-child relationship. Contemporaneously, he also filed a motion seeking to terminate child support and withholding based on his claim that he is not the biological father of R.J.P. The trial court consolidated the cases. The trial court granted the parties a divorce, eliminated withholding and decreased Roosevelt’s monthly child support obligation from $420 to zero without changing Roosevelt’s status as R.J.P.’s father. The Attorney General of Texas appealed the trial court’s order modifying the prior order of child support from $420 to zero. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. On appeal, the Attorney General contends the trial court erred when it modified Roosevelt’s monthly child support obligation to R.J.P. from $420 to zero because the determination was based on inadmissible paternity results. Specifically, the Attorney General contends the trial court should not have considered the paternity results because collateral estoppel and res judicata bar the issue of parentage from being relitigated because the paternity results contradict a court order almost five years earlier. The court states that the original child-support order that Roosevelt is the biological father of R.J.P. has been adjudicated and has the binding effect of a final judgment rendered at the conclusion of an adversary proceeding. The court notes that under 160.637(e) of the Texas Family Code, Roosevelt can only challenge the adjudicated fact of biological paternity “under the laws of this state relating to appeal, the vacating of judgments, or other judicial review.” The court finds that Roosevelt did not file any motions with the trial court after the 1998 adjudication, did not challenge the 1998 order on appeal and did not file a bill of review. Consequently, the court states that it must determine whether the trial court was barred from relitigating Roosevelt’s biological paternity in determining his child-support obligation. The court determines that the doctrine of collateral estoppel barred Roosevelt from relitigating the finding that he is the biological father of R.J.P. In support of its holding, the court points out that Roosevelt’s biological paternity was litigated in a prior suit, in which it was essential to the judgment, and that the same parties were cast as adversaries in the first suit. Thus, the court concludes that the trial court abused its discretion when it considered the paternity results in its determination of Roosevelt’s child support obligation. The court goes on to determine that the trial court’s erroneous consideration of biological paternity in this case was harmful, in that it probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment. The court finds no basis in the record supporting the trial court’s determination that modifying Roosevelt’s child support obligation to zero dollars is in R.J.P.’s best interest. Consequently, the court reverses the portion of the trial court’s judgment modifying Roosevelt’s child support obligation to zero and remand for further proceedings. OPINION:John S. Anderson, J.; Yates, Anderson, and Hudson, JJ. Yates, J., concurs in result only and Hudson, J., dissents.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* 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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.