IN RE: HEART AND SOUL ADOPTIONS

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Corpus Christi-Edinburg.

IN RE: HEART AND SOUL ADOPTIONS, INC., JAMES HALFORD, AND JESSICA HALFORD

NUMBER 13-17-00241-CV

Decided: May 19, 2017

Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Rodriguez and Hinojosa

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Relators Heart and Soul Adoptions, Inc., James Halford, and Jessica Halford filed a petition for writ of mandamus and motion for emergency stay and temporary relief in the above cause on May 5, 2017. Through this original proceeding, relators contend the trial court abused its discretion by assuming jurisdiction over the underlying matter. According to relators, the trial court's temporary orders regarding minor child, R.A., are void because Utah has jurisdiction over the case pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. §§ 152.001-.317 (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). This Court requested and received a response to the petition for writ of mandamus from the real party in interest, Rigo Ledezma, and further received a reply thereto from relators.

Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., 492 S.W.3d 300, 302 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Mandamus relief is proper to correct a clear abuse of discretion when there is no adequate remedy by appeal. In re Christus Santa Rosa Health Sys., 492 S.W.3d 276, 279 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding). The relator bears the burden of proving both of these requirements. In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., 492 S.W.3d at 302; Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). An abuse of discretion occurs when a trial court's ruling is arbitrary and unreasonable or is made without regard for guiding legal principles or supporting evidence. In re Nationwide Ins. Co. of Am., 494 S.W.3d 708, 712 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding); Ford Motor Co. v. Garcia, 363 S.W.3d 573, 578 (Tex. 2012). We determine the adequacy of an appellate remedy by balancing the benefits of mandamus review against the detriments. In re Essex Ins. Co., 450 S.W.3d 524, 528 (Tex. 2014) (orig. proceeding); In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 136 (Tex. 2004)) (orig. proceeding).

A writ of mandamus is an appropriate means to require a trial court to comply with the UCCJEA's jurisdictional requirements. Powell v. Stover, 165 S.W.3d 322, 324 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding); In re Forlenza, 140 S.W.3d 373, 379 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding); Geary v. Peavy, 878 S.W.2d 602, 603 (Tex. 1994) (orig. proceeding). Subject matter jurisdiction in child custody matters is determined by reference to the UCCJEA as contained in Chapter 152 of the Texas Family Code. See In re Dean, 393 S.W.3d 741, 746 (Tex. 2012) (orig. proceeding). Construction of the UCCJEA's home state provision as codified in the family code is a question of law that we review de novo, see Powell, 165 S.W.3d at 324, as is whether a trial court has subject matter jurisdiction. See In re Salminen, 492 S.W.3d 31, 38 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, orig. proceeding); In re Green, 352 S.W.3d 772, 774 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2011, orig. proceeding).

The Court, having examined and fully considered the petition for writ of mandamus, the response, the reply, and the applicable law, is of the opinion that the relators have not shown themselves entitled to the relief sought. Accordingly, we lift the stay that we previously imposed in this cause and we deny the petition for writ of mandamus. See TEX. R. APP. P. 52.8(a),(d).

ROGELIO VALDEZ Chief Justice