Writ of Mandamus in Family Law Cases
On occasion a trial court may abuse its discretion with respect to rulings on family law cases so as to warrant an immediate review by a higher court. This process is called a writ of mandamus against the trial court judge making the incorrect ruling or abuse of discretion.
To be entitled to the extraordinary relief of a writ of mandamus, the relator must show that the trial court clearly abused its discretion and he has no adequate remedy by appeal. In re Team Rocket, L.P., 256 S.W.3d 257, 259 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding). A trial court clearly abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and prejudicial error of law. Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). In determining whether the trial court abused its discretion in the resolution of factual matters, the court of appeals may not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court and may not disturb the trial court's decision unless it is shown to be arbitrary and unreasonable. In re Sanders, 153 S.W.3d 54, 56 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Therefore, the relator must establish that the trial court could have reached only one decision. Walker, 827 S.W.2d at 840. An abuse of discretion does not exist if the trial court bases its decision on conflicting evidence and some evidence supports the trial court's decision. IKB Indus. (Nigeria) Ltd. v. Pro‑Line Corp., 938 S.W.2d 440, 445 (Tex. 1997); Ruiz v. Conoco, Inc., 868 S.W.2d 752, 758 (Tex. 1993).
Appellate courts do not generally overrule trial court rulings, especially when conflicting evidence are submitted by opposing parties. Such was the case in the recent ruling by the 14th Court of Appeals last February in the case of In Re John W. Small who asked the higher court to compel the presiding judge of County Court at Law No. 1 of Galveston County, to set aside her October 31, 2008 order finding relator in contempt for failing to pay court-ordered temporary spousal support to real party in interest, Murriah S. McMaster, and to to reverse her November 1, 2005 order awarding temporary spousal support to McMaster. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, writ of mandamus was denied.