Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases Case 10: LENZ v. LENZ.
Lenz v. Lenz is the first relocation case analyzed by the Texas Supreme Court and the next case in our series. It was significant because it established a strict presumption against relocation in Texas divorce cases.
Significant Relocation Case for San Antonio Divorce Attorneys
LENZ v. LENZ, 79 S.W.3d 10 (Tex. 2002)
LENZ v. LENZ Background
Romy and Rudi separated in Arizona and entered a separation order. Romy was designated as the “primary residential parent.” The Arizona order also expressed the parties’ intent to move to Texas and restrict the children’s residence to Texas.
Subsequently, the parties were divorced in Texas and Romy retained the right to determine the children’s residence within the state of Texas. Shortly after the divorce, Romy filed a modification suit seeking the ability to establish the children’s residence in Germany.
The jury found in favor of Romy. Rudi filed a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The trial court amended the verdict to allow Romy to establish the children’s residence, but only in Bexar County.
The Court Decision
Legally sufficient evidence supported the jury verdict, and the court cannot contravene this verdict.
Significance of Case
This was a case of first impression with the Supreme Court. The Court’s opinion was centered on the public policy argument of Texas – that is “to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child…” In analyzing this statute, the Lenz Court examined a myriad of other states’ standards in the “relocation” context.
The opinion is significant, not so much for the holding, but more so for the fact that it was the first time the Supreme Court analyzed a relocation case. The Lenz Court gave thorough consideration to how and when a trial court or jury can disregard the public policy of the State of Texas in a relocation case.
The opinion indicates that relocation cases are very fact driven, and each should be analyzed carefully. The opinion also signals a move by the courts from a relatively strict presumption against relocation to a more fluid balancing test that permits a trial court to take into account a greater number of relevant factors.
Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: LEWELLING v. LEWELLING
The next significant case is LEWELLING v. LEWELLING. This case is the leading authority on parental presumption in original proceedings.