Temporary Orders Should Not Change Child’s Residence

A case styled In re Casanova should be about love gone awry,1 but alas it is about a struggle between two divorcing parents over which should have their four-year-old daughter when the mother moved to Oklahoma but the father stayed in Dallas. After first allowing the mother to keep the child in Oklahoma, the trial court ordered the child back to Dallas. The Dallas Court of Appeals granted the mother’s petition for writ of mandamus, allowing the child to stay with her mother.

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Temporary Orders

Temporary orders govern how things will run during the pendency of a divorce and in suits involving a child. The Casanova family lived in Dallas, but when the parents separated, the father agreed that the mother could move to Tulsa with their daughter. By agreement, the father saw his daughter often, and the child thrived. She attended preschool, took ballet lessons and made friends in the neighborhood.

The Magnet School

The parents agreed that their daughter would enter a lottery to attempt to obtain a place at a Tulsa magnet school. The child won the lottery. In April 2014, the mother enrolled the child in the magnet school for the school year beginning in August 2014. But the father expressed concern that the mother had recently become less communicative with him about their daughter. The mother also failed to advise the father of an incident at school that involved brief contact with child protective services. The father requested the trial court to modify the temporary orders to bring the child back to Dallas.

The Safety and Welfare of the Child

The trial court granted the father’s request, ordering the child back to Dallas by January 1, 2015. The mother sought review by mandamus. The Dallas Court of Appeals asked “whether the trial court’s order can be construed as enhancing the child’s safety or welfare.” Given the child’s settled life in Tulsa, the court could not agree with the trial court’s order that the child return to Dallas. The court granted the petition for writ of mandamus.
1 Check out Wikipedia’s article on Giacomo Casanova, an Italian adventurer and author, who became “so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with ‘womanizer.'”

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