F. Practical Considerations
a. Some courts have successfully struck interventions as untimely if filed too close to the dismissal deadline.
Grandmother filed petition in intervention 2 months before dismissal date when permanency plan changed from reunification to termination although she had been aware of the case for over a year. Motion to Strike granted and affirmed by Appellate Court as within the discretion of the Court. (In re C.A.L., No. 02-05-308-CV, 2007, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.)).
Grandfather who lived in Kentucky filed an intervention 2 months before trial. (Waiting to file an intervention when out of state and ICPC study required problematic). (Anderson v. Texas Dep’t of Family and Protective Services, No. 03-06-00327-CV (Tex. App. – Austin May 9, 2007, pet. denied (mem. op)).
b. Court should balance the complication of the issues in the case and the rights of the intervening party.
A trial court abuses its discretion if it strikes a petition in which (1) the intervener could bring the same action, or any part thereof, in their own names, (2) the intervention will not complicate the case by an excessive multiplication of the issues, and (3) the intervention is almost essential to effectively protect the interveners’ interest. In applying that analysis, the court found that even though the intervention was filed only 2 weeks before trial that the intervening party had standing and should have been allowed to participate in the trial. (Seale v. Texas Dept. of Family & Protective Services, No. 01-10-00440-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] Mar. 3 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.)).
2. Procedural Issues
a. Effect of Intervention
Rule 60 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “any party may intervene by filing a pleading, subject to being stricken by the court for sufficient cause on the motion of any party.” Thus, intervening parties, absent a Motion to Strike, are immediately granted the status of a party and can participate in discovery, participate in hearings and mediations, and receive court reports, and other filings with the court. Tex. Rule Civ. P. 60.
b. Leave of Court
The court may grant a grandparent or another person deemed by the court to have had substantial past contact with the child leave to intervene in a pending suit filed by a person authorized to do so under Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 102 if there is satisfactory proof to the court that appointment of a parent would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development. Tex. Fam. Code § 102.004(b).
Following the plain language of the statute, the court finds a request for leave to intervene is necessary under Tex. Fam. Code § 102.004(b) and that the Intervener’s Amended Petition for Intervention which requested that the court “grant the relief requested in this intervention” be read as a request for leave to intervene. (In the Interest of A.T., No 14-14-00071-CV, (Tex. App. – Houston, July 15, 2014, (no pet.) (mem. op.))
Court found that Tex. Rule Civ. P. 60 does not apply to interventions filed under Tex. Fam. Code § 102.004(b). Court noted that the legislature developed a separate provision governing interventions in family law cases and gave the trial court discretion to determine whether to allow an intervention even when the statutory requirements are met. Court then found that no written motion to strike was required. (L.J. v. Texas Department of Family & Protective Services, No. 03-11-00435-CV (Tex. App. – Austin Aug. 1, 2012, pet. denied) (mem.op.)).
c. Imperfect Pleadings Can Establish Standing
Appellate courts review standing issues by construing the pleadings in favor of the petitioner and by looking to the pleader’s intent
Question is whether a party provides other parties and the Court fair notice of his or her claim. (Jasek v. TDFPS, 348 S.W.3d 523 (Tex App. – Austin 2011, no pet.)); In the Interest of D.A., No. 02-14-00265-CV (Tex. App. – Fort Worth, February 5, 2015) (mem. op.); In the Interest of N.I.V.S, No. 04-14-00108-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, March 11, 2015) (mem. op.)