Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Appellant Mary Binder f/k/a Mary Safady brings this restricted appeal of a default judgment rendered in favor of appellee, Danny Joe Safady. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Mary argues that the trial court erred in granting Danny substantially more relief than he sought in his petition to modify by 1. eliminating his child support arrearages which were the subject of Mary’s motion to enforce, not Danny’s petition to modify; 2. awarding Danny attorney’s fees “in the nature of child support”; and 3. appointing Danny sole managing conservator of the remaining minor child, despite acknowledging that a request for change in conservatorship was not pleaded in the petition. In its default judgment, the trial court granted Danny’s requested relief, but also granted additional relief that he had not pled. Specifically, the trial court erred by reducing Danny’s child-support arrearages to zero when Danny had never sought this relief in his petition to modify. By granting more relief than Danny requested in his petition, the trial court erred, and that error is apparent on the face of the record. Danny argues that only general pleadings are required in family law matters and that his pleadings placed the issue of whether Danny owed child support to Mary at issue. Although detailed pleadings are not required in suits affecting the parent-child relationship, the court concludes that Danny’s pleadings were too general to put Mary on notice that he would attempt to reduce his child-support arrearages to zero. Here, Danny’s petition requested only that he be entitled to child-support payments and attorney’s fees. He made no request for any retroactive child support relief. Nor did he make any request for an offset or counterclaim. The court concludes that the trial court abused its discretion by reducing Danny’s child-support arrearages because that issue was not pled in Danny’s petition to modify. The trial court also erred by makig Danny the sole managing conservator of the remaining minor child even though Danny had not pled for that relief. Finally, because the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees was based partially on work performed in response to Mary’s motion for enforcement, a separate proceeding, the court reverses the judgment that awarded $5,000 in attorney’s fees to Danny. OPINION:Evelyn V. Keyes, J.; Taft, Keyes and Hanks, 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.