Motions to Modify and Paternity

| Aug 23, 2010 | Divorce |

In the Interest of W.R.M.D. is a case out of the Waco Court of Appeals where the father’s paternity was established in 2004 when the child was 20 months old.  In that order, the mother was given the exclusive right to determine the child’s residence.  18 months later, the father filed a Motion to Modify Custody.  

The trial court precluded the mother from offering evidence that before the child’s birth, the father had threatened the mother that he would take an active role in the child’s life if he turned out to be the dad, that he would seek custody, that he had asked the mother to get an abortion and that the father wanted to relinquish his rights before DNA testing was conducted.
The court of appeals acknowledged that evidence predating the order to be modified was inadmissible unless offered to corroborate subsequent similar conduct.  The mother argued that because the father followed through with his threats to become involved with the child and seek custody, the father was attempting to punish the mother for failing to get an abortion.
The court stated that there was no evidence to suggest whether the fathers actions were taken to punish the mother or instead simply efforts to be a good father but recognized that the prejudicial effect of the evidence outweighed its probative value.  The court of appeals found no abuse of discretion in excluding the evidence.