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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Jan. 23, 2003, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (the department) filed a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) to terminate the parent-child relationship between Joy Higdon and her two children. That day, the trial court entered an ex parte order giving the department the authority to take possession of the children, naming the department temporary managing conservator and setting the matter for a full adversarial hearing on Feb. 3, 2003. Higdon was restored as managing conservator of the children at the February hearing but agreed to place the children with their great-grandmother, Ruby Ludwig. The trial court held periodic status hearings. In a temporary order dated Aug. 19, 2003, the trial court appointed the department temporary managing conservator and identified the dismissal date for the case as Aug. 16, 2004. The children continued to reside with Ludwig. In September, the trial court identified the dismissal date for the department’s case as Jan. 26, 2004, and set the case for trial on the merits. In January, the trial court extended the dismissal date to July 24, 2004, as permitted by �263.401(b) of the Texas Family Code. On Feb. 23, 2004, Ludwig intervened, seeking sole managing conservatorship of the children. On July 19, 2004, the trial began. On July 22, 2004, Ludwig and Higdon filed motions to dismiss for failure to render a final order before the statutory deadline. The department rested its case on July 23, 2004. July 24, 2004, was the dismissal deadline identified by the court in its January order. The trial recommenced on July 27, 2004. On July 28, 2004, the jury returned a unanimous verdict terminating the parent-child relationship between Higdon and each child and appointing the department, rather than Ludwig, as sole managing conservator of the children. The trial court announced the verdict from the bench, terminated the parental rights of the fathers of the children, and denied the motions to dismiss. The trial court did not render judgment on Higdon’s parental rights or Ludwig’s intervention. The trial court scheduled a hearing for Aug. 11, 2004, to enter the final decree terminating Higdon’s parental rights, but the trial court never signed the decree. On Aug. 11, 2004, and Aug. 12, 2004, Ludwig and Higdon, respectively, filed petitions for writ of mandamus with the court of appeals seeking to compel the trial court to dismiss the case for failure to render a final order before the dismissal date. On Oct. 21, 2004, the 3rd Court of Appeals granted mandamus relief and ordered the trial court to dismiss the department’s case. On Nov. 18, 2004, the court of appeals denied the department’s motion for rehearing, correctly noting that Ludwig’s intervention would be unaffected by the dismissal of the department’s SAPCR. The next day, the department filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the Texas Supreme Court and a motion to stay further proceedings. The court granted the motion to stay. HOLDING:The department’s application for a writ of mandamus was conditionally granted; the Texas Supreme Court directed the 3rd Court of Appeals to vacate its order to the trial court directing the trial court to dismiss the case. The court stated that issuance of mandamus by the court of appeals is improper if the trial court did not abuse its discretion or if the record fails to demonstrate the lack of an adequate remedy on appeal. The court agreed that July 24, 2004 was the extended dismissal deadline for the department’s SAPCR. The court found that the trial court erred when it failed to render a final order by that deadline. Higdon and Ludwig complied with the statutory deadline by filing before the department rested and had ripe motions to dismiss the SAPCR before the trial court when the deadline passed. The trial court abused its discretion by failing to dismiss the department’s SAPCR within the statutory time period as requested by Higdon’s and Ludwig’s timely motions. Higdon and Ludwig, however, were not entitled to mandamus relief because they had an adequate remedy by accelerated appeal under the Texas Family Code. Mandamus will not issue when the law provides another plain, adequate and complete remedy. Texas Family Code �263.405 provides an accelerated appeal that shortens deadlines, expedites filing of the appellate record, and requires the appellate court to “render its final order or judgment with the least possible delay.” In this case, Higdon and Ludwig filed their motions to dismiss during trial. Because the trial was underway when the dismissal deadline passed and because physical possession of the children had already transferred to the department when the petition for writ of mandamus was filed with the court of appeals, the court concluded that an accelerated appeal provided an adequate remedy in this case. The court stated it was not holding that a party complaining of a trial court’s failure to dismiss a SAPCR within the statutory deadline could never be entitled to mandamus relief, but under the facts of this case, it concluded that an accelerated appeal was an adequate remedy. Impending transfer of physical possession of the children or a trial court’s unreasonable delay in entering a final decree might alter this conclusion, but this record raises neither situation. In fact, assuming the trial court entered the final decree at the scheduled Aug. 11, 2004 hearing, Ludwig and Higdon could have initiated an accelerated appeal under �263.403 of the Texas Family Code on the same day they filed their petitions for writ of mandamus. OPINION:Per curiam.

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