Clawson v. Millard

In Clawson v. Millard, 934 S.W.2d 899, 901 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 1996), the wife filed for divorce in Harris County. See Clawson, 934 S.W.2d at 900. Four months later, her husband filed for divorce in Galveston County. See id. Two pleas to the jurisdiction were filed, the husband's in Harris County and the wife's in Galveston County. See id. In response to the wife's plea in Galveston, the husband argued that an exception to the general rule requiring mandatory abatement by the second court applied in his case. See id. at 901. He claimed that his wife was estopped from relying on the fact she filed first in Harris County because she waited four and one-half months to have her husband served, and by that time he had already filed for divorce in Galveston and served his wife with citation. See id. Based on the pleadings and the arguments, the Galveston Court denied the wife's plea and ruled in favor of the husband, thereby assuming dominant jurisdiction. See id. This order was not taken up for review. See id. Although the court of appeals was not called upon to review the actions of the Galveston Court in assuming jurisdiction, it was called upon to review the actions of the Harris County Court in proceeding with its case. See Id. In doing so, it reasoned that because the Galveston Court ruling had not been reversed, vacated, or set aside, dominant jurisdiction remained in the Galveston Court. See Id. The court concluded the Harris County Court abused its discretion by continuing to issue conflicting orders after the Galveston Court overruled the wife's plea in abatement, and declared any orders entered by the Harris County Court from and after that date null and void. See Id. The court of appeals conditionally issued a writ of mandamus against the Harris County Court and abated the wife's action pending final disposition of the husband's action by the Galveston Court. See id. The petition for writ of mandamus in Clawson challenged the rulings of the Harris County Court where the first suit was filed. The assumption of jurisdiction by the Galveston Court, the second court, was not challenged. Dominant jurisdiction correctly remained in the Galveston Court because its ruling regarding jurisdiction had not been reversed, vacated, or set aside.