Although generally family court cases have a substantial and lasting effect on people’s lives, changes in circumstances may make some cases no longer relevant or actionable. In a recent case in a Texas child support case, a Texas appeals court found that the wife’s suit for child support modification had become moot.
In that case, the husband and wife shared two children. After their divorce, the wife filed a motion to modify child support and possession claiming that there were material and substantial changes affecting the child support. The court held a hearing and issued a decision in that case in 2018. The wife appealed that decision. While the appeal was pending, that wife filed a subsequent motion to modify the order and in 2020, the trial court signed a judgment in a separate proceeding. The wife did not appeal that decision. In the wife’s appeal, the husband argued that the appeal was moot because the wife had filed a new modification suit and the court entered a new child support order, which she had not appealed.
When Does a Case Become Moot?
Texas courts are required to consider intervening events that may affect a lawsuit and cause it to be moot. A case is moot if there is no “justiciable controversy between the parties.” If a controversy between the parties does not exist or ceases to exist, the parties do not have a legal interest in the outcome, or the court’s judgment does not have any practical legal effect, the case is moot.
In this case, the court explained that a petition seeking modification of child support is considered a separate lawsuit and substitutes an existing child support order. This means that a subsequent modification of child support results in a new final order concerning child support. When the trial court issued a new order concerning child support, that judgment replaced the previous judgment the wife had appealed. Thus, the court found that the justiciable controversy no longer existed between the parties concerning conservatorship, possession, and access to the children, as the judgment the wife had appealed was replaced by a later judgment. Therefore, the court found those issues were moot. The court also wife’s appeal of a judgment ordering her to pay attorney’s fees in the case was moot because a bankruptcy court had already ordered her to pay those attorney’s fees, which she did not appeal.
Contact a Dedicated Texas Family Law Attorney
The outcome of a Texas family law case can have a major impact on the lives of the parties and their families. Guest & Gray’s Texas family law and divorce lawyers in Forney and Rockwall have decades of experience in family law and work tirelessly to get the best result in every case. Their attorneys are experienced, aggressive, and ready to be of assistance. They help individuals through divorce, child support, custody, adoptions, and more in Dallas, Rockwall, Kaufman, and Tarrant Counties. Contact them to see if they can help by calling 972-564-4644 or by filling out their online contact form.