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Bill of Review in Family Law Cases

Dallas Family Law Attorneys Helping People Seek Justice

Texas residents will often turn to the courts to resolve a number of different family law disputes. When tasked with making determinations in such matters, the courts typically exercise great care, thoroughly analyzing the facts of the case and delivering reasoned decisions. In some instances, though, factors beyond the court’s control will impact a ruling. While parties dissatisfied with a court’s ruling have the option of moving for a new trial or appealing a court order or final judgment, they have a limited timeframe in which to take such action. However, aggrieved parties no longer eligible to file an appeal or seek a new trial may be able to seek relief by seeking a bill of review. If you are subject to a court’s order or judgment in a family law case that you wish to have set aside, you should contact an attorney to explore whether you may be able to seek a bill of review or other relief. The seasoned Dallas family law attorneys of McClure Law Group are skilled at handling challenging disputes, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf.

Bill of Review in Family Law Cases in Texas

In Texas family law cases, after the expiration of the trial court's power to take action, a judgment can only be set aside through a bill of review, which is an equitable remedy allowing parties to challenge judgments that are no longer subject to appeal or a motion for a new trial. The grounds for obtaining a bill of review are narrow, however, due to the principle that judgments should eventually become final.

Grounds for Granting a Bill of Review in Family Law Cases

A party seeking a bill of review in a Texas family law case bill must demonstrate that they have a meritorious claim or defense to the underlying cause of action, which the Texas courts interpret to mean that the moving party would have won on the merits of the case, or obtained a favorable outcome if they were not unjustly prevented from properly presenting their case to the court.

Next, the party seeking a bill of review must show that they were prevented from presenting their claim or defense due to fraud, an accident, or the opposing party's wrongful act. Finally, they must also show that no negligence or fault on their part prevented them from setting forth their defense.

Notably, the Texas courts make a distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic fraud when evaluating petitions for bill of review in family law cases. Extrinsic fraud occurs when a party is denied the chance to fully litigate all of their defenses or rights that they could have asserted due to wrongful conduct that occurred outside of the trial, like making false promises, barring a party access to hearings, or preventing a party from learning about a case, that impacts the outcome of the case. Extrinsic fraud is also referred to as collateral fraud, in that it is secondary to the issues litigated. Intrinsic fraud, on the other hand, relates to the merits of the case; examples of intrinsic fraud include perjury and fraudulent documents. Only extrinsic fraud entitles parties to relief via a bill of review in family law cases.

Generally, a party must pursue a bill of review within four years from the date of the judgment they seek to overturn, as per the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. In cases involving extrinsic fraud, the four-year statute of limitations does not apply.

Confer With a Capable Dallas Family Law Attorney

If you want to challenge a final judgment or court order issued in a family law case, you should confer with an attorney to determine whether you may be able to seek a bill of review. The capable Dallas family law attorneys of McClure Law Group understand what it takes to prevail in complicated family law disputes, and if we represent you, we will gather any evidence in your favor, to provide you with a strong chance of achieving your desired outcome. Our primary office is located in Dallas. We are also available to meet clients by appointment at our Collin-County office, which is located in Plano. We regularly represent people in family law disputes in Dallas, Garland, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Irving, Richardson, Frisco, and McKinney. Further, we aid parties with family law matters in cities in Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Tarrant, and Grayson. You can reach us by calling 214.692.8200 or by using our online form to set up a conference.

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