If a parent seeks to modify a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, venue lies in the county where the child has resided for the past six months or longer. Tex. Fam Code § 155.201(b). If a petitioner files suit in the wrong county, the trial court must transfer the case to the correct county upon a timely request by the respondent. If the trial court fails to do so, then the respondent may seek a writ of mandamus from the court of appeals to force the trial court to transfer the case. In re Thompson, No. 01-13-00789-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 24, 2014, orig. proceeding).
The Correct Venue
In Thompson, a mother sued a father to obtain support for the parties’ adult mentally disabled child. The mother filed suit in Harris County even though the child had lived in Liberty County for more than six months. The father moved to transfer venue to Liberty County, but the trial court denied the father’s request.
Nevertheless, the court of appeals declined to order a transfer of venue because the father filed his motion to transfer too late. According to section 155.204(b) of the Texas Family Code,
a motion to transfer by a petitioner or movant is timely if it is made at the time the initial pleadings are filed. A motion to transfer by another party is timely if it is made on or before the first Monday after the 20th day after the date of service of citation or notice of the suit or before commencement of the hearing, whichever is sooner.
Motion to Transfer Venue Untimely
Although the father filed his motion to transfer venue at the same time that he filed his initial pleadings, he filed all these document after the first Monday after the 20th day following service of citation upon him. The court of appeals rejected the father’s argument that the deadline did not apply to him because he was “another party” under section 155.204(b), observing that the father had not sought affirmative relief by a counter-petition. Only then would the father have been considered “another party.”