Motion to Reopen Evidence in Texas Divorce and Child Custody Cases

A motion to reopen evidence can be pivotal in Texas family law cases. This motion allows a party to present additional evidence after the trial has concluded but before the final ruling. This is available for both divorce and child custody cases.

Legal Basis

Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 270 states: “When it clearly appears to be necessary to the due administration of justice, the court may permit additional evidence to be offered at any time; provided that in a jury case no evidence on a controversial matter shall be received after the verdict of the jury.”

Criteria for Consideration

Courts consider several factors when deciding whether to grant a motion to reopen evidence:

  1. Due Diligence: Did the moving party show due diligence in obtaining the evidence?
  2. Decisiveness: Is the proffered evidence decisive?
  3. Undue Delay: Will the reception of such evidence cause undue delay?
  4. Injustice: Will granting the motion cause injustice?

These criteria were highlighted in cases such as In re B.J.M., No. 04-1400300-CV, 2015 WL 1244804, at *2 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2015, no pet.) and Poag v. Flories, 317 S.W.3d 820, 828 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2010, pet. denied).

Court’s Discretion

The trial court has broad discretion to decide on such motions. Courts should exercise this discretion liberally to allow both sides to fully develop their case. This principle is underscored in In re R.H.B., 660 S.W.3d 136, 156 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2022, no pet.):

“Whether to reopen the evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court, and the court should exercise its discretion liberally in the interest of permitting both sides to fully develop the case in the interest of justice.”

Timing

It’s crucial to file a motion to reopen evidence within 30 days of the court’s ruling. Best practice is to submit this motion within 30 days of the trial if possible. Filing beyond this window can jeopardize the motion’s success.

Reputation Evidence

When filing a motion to reopen evidence, it’s important to understand the types of evidence that may be considered. One aspect of this is the credibility of witnesses, which can be pivotal in family law cases. Texas Rule of Evidence 608 addresses this:

  • Reputation or Opinion Evidence: A witness’s credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about the witness’s reputation for truthfulness or untruthfulness.
  • Specific Instances of Conduct: Generally, specific instances of conduct cannot be used to attack or support a witness’s character for truthfulness unless it involves a criminal conviction under Rule 609.

Understanding these rules can help in assessing whether the new evidence related to witness credibility is admissible and how it might impact the case.

Conclusion

Filing a motion to reopen evidence can significantly impact the outcome of a case. Understanding the legal framework and criteria is essential for effectively utilizing this tool.

To retain an experienced Texas divorce lawyer for your divorce or child custody case in DallasDentonCollin or Rockwall County, please schedule a consultation with us today.