Warren v. Weiner, 462 S.W.3d 140 (Tex App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, no pet.).




Mother and Father, while married, created a trust for a child and named themselves as co-trustees.  The divorce decree provided for Mother and Father to continue serving as trustees.  They are now accusing each other of violating the terms of the trust.  Mother brought an action in probate court to terminate the trust or remove Father as a co-trustee.  Father claimed that the probate court lacked jurisdiction because the family court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.  The probate court agreed and Mother appealed.


The appellate court reversed.  The court determined that the Family Code did not give the family court exclusive jurisdiction over the trust.  Instead, the family court has exclusive jurisdiction only over matters implicating the Family Code.  The divorce decree cannot grant or waive a court’s jurisdiction by agreement.


The court also determined that the family court did not have dominate jurisdiction.  The claims of breach of trust were not connected with the divorce proceedings in family court.  Neither the child nor the trust were parties to the divorce.  There was no dispute relating to the trust at the time of the divorce.


Moral:  A family court does not acquire exclusive jurisdiction over a trust even though trust matters may be covered in the divorce decree.