Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Important Texas Custody Cases- Long v. Long

Long v. Long, 144 SW 3d 64 (Tex. App- El Paso, 2004, no pet.)

Holding: Standards of review, best interest factors in conservatorship proceedings

Issue: Whether court abused its discretion by modifying the divorce decree and awarding father the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the children.

Facts: Mother and Father were appointed joint managing conservators (JMC) of their two daughters in a divorce decree that was signed on June 2, 2000, with mother having the right to determine domicile. One August 31, 2001, father filed a petition seeking modification, asking that he be awarded the exlusive right to establish the primary residence of the children, or in the alternative, sole managing conservatorship (SMC).

The trial court found that modification was in the best interest of the girls and continued the parties' JMC. However, father was awarded the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the girls without regard to geographic locatin. Mother filed a motion for new trial which was denied by the trial court, and subsequently filed a notice of appeal.
Discussion: Once it has been determined that the abuse-of-discretion standard applies, an appellate court engages in a two-pronged inquiry: (1) whether the trial court had suffricient information on which to exercise its discretion; and (2) whether the trial court erred in its application of discretion..the traditional sufficiency review comes into play with regard to the first question; however the inquiry does not end there. The appellate court then proceeds to determine whether, based on the elicited evidence, the trial court made a reasonable decision..stated inversely, the appellate court must conclude the trial court's decision was neither arbitrary nor unreasonable.