What Does ''Rendition of Judgment'' Mean ?

Rendition of judgment and entry of judgment are distinct actions. See Burrell v. Cornelius, 570 S.W.2d 382, 384 (Tex. 1978); Oak Creek Homes, Inc. v. Jones, 758 S.W.2d 288, 290 (Tex. App.--Waco 1988, no writ). Judgments usually go through three stages: rendition, reduction to writing, and entry. Oak Creek Homes, 758 S.W.2d at 290. The trial court renders its judgment. After rendition, the trial court or the prevailing party prepares a written judgment which is signed by the court. After signing, the trial court clerk enters the written judgment on the minutes of the court. Burrell, 570 S.W.2d at 384; Oak Creek Homes, 758 S.W.2d at 290. A trial court renders judgment by oral pronouncement of its decision in open court or by a signed, written memorandum filed with the clerk. S & a Restaurant Corp. v. Leal, 892 S.W.2d 855, 857-58 (Tex. 1995) (per curiam). To constitute rendition, the court's pronouncement "must clearly indicate the intent to render judgment at the time the words are expressed." Id. at 858; Balogh v. Ramos, 978 S.W.2d 696, 701 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1998, pet. denied) (op. on reh'g), cert. denied, U.S, 120 S. Ct. 66, 145 L. Ed. 2d 57 (1999). For suits affecting the parent-child relationship, the Legislature has provided that rendition of judgment may be accomplished by a docket notation. See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. 101.026 (Vernon 1996). This is contrary to the general rule in civil cases that a docket notation standing alone does not constitute rendition of judgment. See McCormack v. Guillot, 597 S.W.2d 345, 346 (Tex. 1980) (orig. proceeding); Withrow v. State Farm Lloyds, 990 S.W.2d 432, 435 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 1999, pet. denied). Furthermore, section 263.401(d) specifically defines what is required to constitute a "final order" for purposes of that statute. See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. 263.401(d) (Vernon Supp. 2000). The parties agree that only subdivision (d)(4) potentially applies in this case. Id. 263.401(d)(4). That subdivision defines a "final order" as one which "terminates the parent- child relationship and appoints a relative of the child, another suitable person, or the department as managing conservator of the child." Id.