Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.

Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw

Date: 11-25-2022

Case Style:

Latrenda S. Coleman v. Ivan Duane Coleman, Jr.

Case Number: 02-21-00368-CV

Judge: Brian Walker


Second Appellate District of Texas at Fort Worth

On appeal from the 325th District Court of Tarrant County

Plaintiff's Attorney:
Fort Worth, Texas - Best Divorce Lawyer Directory

Tell MoreLaw About Your Litigation Successes and MoreLaw Will Tell the World.

Re: MoreLaw National Jury Verdict and Settlement

MoreLaw collects and publishes civil and criminal litigation information from the state and federal courts nationwide. Publication is free and access to the information is free to the public.

MoreLaw will publish litigation reports submitted by you free of charge - 855-853-4800

Defendant's Attorney: Ivan Duane Coleman


Fort Worth, Texas – Divorce lawyer represented Appellant with appealing from the trial court’s final decree of divorce.


Mr. Coleman’s unsworn original petition for divorce (Petition) was a fill-in-theblanks form on which various options for jurisdictional allegations and relief appeared
next to open boxes for Mr. Coleman to input checkmarks indicating his choices. He
checked that he had lived in Tarrant County for the preceding ninety days, but there
are no checkmarks next to any jurisdictional allegations related to Ms. Coleman’s
status in the county. Likewise, Mr. Coleman left blank all allegations about whether
he or Ms. Coleman had lived in Texas for the last six months. The Petition requests a
divorce and for the court to make determinations about the Colemans’ community
and separate property.
The Petition states that the Colemans are parents to a child, that the child’s
place of birth was “Dallas,” and that the child at the time of filing the Petition lived in
Texas. However, Mr. Coleman left blank the section of the Petition entitled
“Jurisdiction over Children” that directed Mr. Coleman to state whether (1) the child
had lived in Texas for at least the past six months or since birth or (2) whether there
were other court orders or another court had continuing jurisdiction over the child.
Finally, Mr. Coleman left blank the sections dedicated to his requests for orders on
conservatorship, possession and access, and health insurance for the child. In other
words, the Petition is devoid of any requested relief regarding custody or support of
the child.
The Decree is a fill-in-the-blanks document similar to the Petition. Section
one, titled “Appearances,” is blank—except for including Mr. Coleman’s full name—
giving no indication whether either party was present, whether Ms. Coleman filed an
answer or waiver of service, or whether Mr. Coleman served Ms. Coleman with the
1 Section three, titled “Jurisdiction,” states that the trial court heard evidence
1The appellate record contains neither a return of service showing that Ms.
Coleman was properly served with the Petition nor any answer to the Petition, but
Ms. Coleman acknowledges in her Appellant’s brief that she was served with the
Petition and that she “did not provide a written response to the [Petition]” after being
informed by the trial court clerk’s office “that she did not have to respond if she
agreed with the divorce . . . .” Ms. Coleman contends in her brief that, though she
repeatedly requested notice of any trial court hearings held in this matter, she was
provided no such notice and learned of the Decree only after it was entered.
and found that it had jurisdiction over the case and parties, that the residency and
notice requirements had been met, and that the Petition met all legal requirements.
Sections four and fourteen ordered the Colemans divorced and divided their
property and debts. In section five, titled “Children,” the trial court found that the
Colemans were the parents of the child and that no other court orders existed
regarding the child. Listed are the child’s name, sex, place of birth (Dallas), and Texas
as the state “where the child lives now,” but the child’s date of birth and social
security number are blank and there is no indication about how long the child had
been in Texas or in Tarrant County.
Section seven, titled “Conservatorship (Custody),” outlines certain rights and
duties of the parents and directed the trial court to “check box 7B(1)” if the parents
were to be named joint managing conservators or to “check box 7B(2)” if one parent
was to be named the sole managing conservator. Neither box is checked, however it
is ordered that neither parent had the right to choose the primary residence of the
child and that the child was not to be moved outside of “Arlington ISD.” Further, it
is ordered that Ms. Coleman has the right to receive child support, though section
nine, titled “Child Support” is completely blank; the Decree never orders Mr.
Coleman to pay any set amount for support.
In section eight, titled “Possession and Access (Visitation),” the trial court was
directed to select whether the possession schedule was to be standard, modified, or
supervised and to attach a copy of that possession order to the Decree. None of
these options are selected and no possession order is attached. Instead, there is a
handwritten note scrawled in the margins of this section that appears to state:
“Agreed between the parties.” Finally, section ten orders that the child’s health and
dental insurance will be supplied through Ms. Coleman’s employment but paid for by
Mr. Coleman.
Apart from Ms. Coleman’s notice of appeal, the record before us contains no
other party filings, pleadings, or evidence.
On appeal, Ms. Coleman contests only the evidentiary sufficiency supporting
the trial court’s child custody and possession orders; she does not contest the divorce
orders. We need not consider Ms. Coleman’s sole issue, however, because the record
does not contain the requisite suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR),
which renders any related orders void. Tex. R. App. P. 47.1.
Though a divorce suit and a SAPCR are separate and distinct suits, see In re
Marriage of Morales, 968 S.W.2d 508, 511 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi–Edinburg 1998,
no pet.), the petition in a suit for dissolution of a marriage, in which the parties are the
parents of a child, must include a SAPCR. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.406. The
SAPCR petition “must include,” among other things, (1) “a statement that[] the court
in which the petition [was] filed has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction or that no court
has continuing jurisdiction of the suit” and (2) “a statement describing what action the
court is requested to take concerning the child and the statutory grounds on which the
request is made.” Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 102.008(b)(1), (10).
“A court’s jurisdiction to render judgment is invoked by pleadings, and a
judgment unsupported by pleadings is void.” Ex parte Fleming, 532 S.W.2d 122, 123
(Tex. Civ. App.—Dallas 1975, no writ); see Tex. R. Civ. P. 67, 301; Stoner v. Thompson,
578 S.W.2d 679, 682–83 (Tex. 1979); Loban v. City of Grapevine, No. 2-09-068-CV, 2009
WL 5183802, at *2 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Dec. 31, 2009, no pet.) (mem. op.).
Mr. Coleman’s Petition did not contain a SAPCR. It provided no jurisdictional
information about the child; it contained no statements (1) that the trial court had
continuing jurisdiction over the child, (2) that no other court orders existed
concerning the child, or (3) that indicated where the child had lived in the six months
preceding the filing of the Petition. Most striking, though, is the complete absence in
the Petition of a request that the trial court take any action concerning the child.
There are no requests for the trial court to determine issues of conservatorship,
possession and access, child support, or the child’s insurance. Thus, it is clear that the
pleadings before the trial court—which included only the Petition—contained no
requisite SAPCR. Without a SAPCR, the trial court had no jurisdiction to enter
custody orders and any such orders are therefore void. See Loban, 2009 WL 5183802,
at *2

Outcome: Because the divorce proceedings must include a SAPCR related to the
Colemans’ child, Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.406, we reverse and remand for further
proceedings on the requisite SAPCR. Tex. R. App. P. 43.2, 43.3, 44.1(a); see SeligmanHargis v. Hargis, 186 S.W.3d 582, 587 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2006, no pet.) (reversing and remanding as to only a portion of the divorce decree). We affirm all portions of the Decree concerning the dissolution of the Colemans’ marriage and the division of their property and debts. Tex. R. App. P. 44.1(b).

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


Find a Lawyer


Find a Case