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Butler v. Butler

Court of Appeals of Texas
577 S.W.2d 501 (1978)


Facts

Wylie Neal Butler (defendant) lived with his wife, Nancy (plaintiff), and their two children, Billy Joe and Cynthia Kay, in Texas. On August 12, 1975, Wylie Neal left Nancy and moved to Louisiana, taking Cynthia Kay. On August 22, Nancy filed for divorce in a Texas court. Wylie Neal purposely evaded communicating his and Cynthia Kay’s whereabouts to Nancy. Despite engaging the services of four different Louisiana county sheriff departments, a private investigator, and the Louisiana Department of Welfare, Nancy was unable to locate Wylie Neal so as to effectuate services of process. Eventually, she learned of his location when she was served with a Louisiana separation and custody action brought by Wylie Neal. With the help of a private investigator, she was able to track down and retrieve her daughter. In June 1977, the Texas court authorized substituted service of citation on Wylie Neal through delivery of the citation by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Wylie Neal’s attorney of record in the Louisiana proceeding. Delivery was thereby made. Wylie Neal entered a special appearance in the Texas proceeding to challenge service. He did not file an answer to Nancy’s complaint nor did he present any evidence that the court lacked jurisdiction over him. The court ruled that he had waived his special appearance. It issued a divorce decree that day and awarded Nancy custody, child support, and attorney’s fees. Wylie Neal appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ray, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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