Moon v. Marquez

Decision Date30 September 1999
Docket NumberNo. 99-201.,99-201.
Citation999 S.W.2d 678,338 Ark. 636
PartiesStephanie Deeanna MOON (Hamilton), v. David MARQUEZ.
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Shackleford, Phillips, Wineland & Ratcliff, P.A., by: Brian Ratcliff, El Dorado, for appellant.

Harrod Law Offices, by: David W. Harrod, Hamburg, for appellee.

LAVENSKI R. SMITH, Justice.

Appellant, Stephanie Deeanna Moon ("Moon"), seeks reversal of a chancellor's order modifying the surname of her daughter, "M.M.", to that of the child's natural father, Appellee David Marquez ("Marquez"). The chancellor entered the order following a hearing on appellee's Petition to Modify Paternity Order. On appeal, appellant contends that the doctrine of res judicata should apply to bar a name-change petition subsequent to the initial paternity-determination proceeding. The court of appeals found that res judicata did not apply. It also upheld the chancellor's order changing M.M.'s surname. Moon v. Marquez, 65 Ark.App. 78, 986 S.W.2d 103 (1999). Moon filed a Petition for Review to this court under Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 1-2(e). We affirm.

Moon and Marquez met in California in 1992. At one time, the parties were engaged to be married. Over time, the relationship deteriorated, and Moon moved back to Arkansas, her home state, while Marquez moved to Alaska with the military. However, prior to moving apart, Moon conceived a child by Marquez. The child, M.M., was born on February 24, 1993. After receiving a birth announcement from Moon, Marquez sought legal representation and filed a Complaint to Establish Paternity on May 18, 1993, in Ashley County Chancery Court. In that complaint, among other things, Marquez requested that the child's surname be changed from Moon to Marquez. On June 22, 1994, the court entered a Paternity Order finding that Marquez was the child's father. This order resulted from the parties agreement, and Marquez dropped his request for name change as part of the settlement. The Chancellor's order reflected that the child's surname would be Moon.

Two-and-a-half years later, on December 9, 1996, Marquez filed a Petition to Modify the Paternity Order. Marquez sought to modify custody or, in the alternative, gain greater visitation with the minor child. Once again he requested that the child's surname be changed to Marquez. In response, Moon filed an answer, and then filed a Motion to Dismiss on May 9, 1997, at which time she raised the affirmative defense of res judicata, arguing that the doctrine bars the claim for name change because it could have been litigated in the original paternity action but was abandoned by Marquez. In his response to the Motion to Dismiss, Marquez argued that the chancellor made no specific finding that M.M.'s last name would be Moon instead of Marquez. Instead, the parties reached an agreement on the issue, but it was never decided by the court.

The chancellor heard the modification petition on July 1, 1997. The parties announced at trial that they had reached agreement on all issues except the question of the name change. Trial proceeded with that as the sole issue. Testimony revealed that since the initial paternity order, Marquez had married and moved to San Antonio, Texas. Moon also had married, and she and M.M. resided with her husband, James Hamilton, in Crossett. In his testimony, Marquez stated that he originally agreed that M.M. should use the surname Moon, but now, after Moon's marriage, the child was using the surname Hamilton, as well. Marquez stated that the child's dance-recital program, tap shoes, and backpack all identified her as Hamilton. Additionally, Marquez testified that he sought the change so that he could have a bond with his daughter and avoid confusion for the child as she grows older.

Moon testified and acknowledged she now personally used her husband's surname of Hamilton. However, she denied that they purposely changed her daughter's name to Hamilton. She stated that her daughter was registered at school, the doctor's office, and on her birth certificate as Moon. Moon testified that the dance teacher must have mistakenly put the name "Hamilton" on the dance-recital program. Moon stated she did not know how the name "Hamilton" got on the child's belongings.

On April 1, 1998, the chancellor issued an order modifying the original paternity order. The court approved the parties stipulated agreement as to custody, support, and visitation. On the same date, the chancellor issued a second order finding that Marquez had paid all required child support and more; that he had provided health insurance for the child; that he had "vigorously pursued" visitation with his child; that he had not shirked is responsibilities to the minor child and had made every effort to be a part of her life; that he had met with considerable resistance from Moon; that the mother no longer used the last name "Moon"; that the child was being referred to both as Moon and Hamilton; that using a different name than the mother's maiden name makes it less evident that the child was born out of wedlock; that the natural father desires to have the child bear his name; that the "name change from `Moon' to `Marquez' will help strengthen and enhance the parent-child bond between the biological father" and the child; and that it would be in the child's best interest to bear the surname of Marquez. Moon filed a timely notice of appeal, arguing that res judicata bars this claim for a name change.

Standard of Review

Upon a Petition for Review, we review the case as though it had been originally appealed to this court. Ark. Sup.Ct. R. 1-2(e); Huffman v. Fisher, 337 Ark. 58, 63, 987 S.W.2d 269, 271 (1999). Also, we review chancery cases de novo on the record, but do not reverse a finding of fact by the chancellor unless it is clearly erroneous. Office of Child Support Enf. v. Eagle, 336 Ark. 51, 53, 983 S.W.2d 429, 430 (1999).

Res judicata

The single issue in this appeal is whether the doctrine of res judicata applies to bar a claim for name change in a petition to modify a paternity order where the claim had been made in the initial paternity petition but not decided by the court. We hold it does not.

Res judicata bars relitigation of a claim in a "subsequent" lawsuit when five factors are present. These include: (1) the first suit resulted in a final judgment on the merits, (2) the first suit was based upon proper jurisdiction, (3) the first suit was fully contested in good faith, (4) both suits involve the same claim or cause of action, and (5) both suits involve the same parties or their privies. See, e.g., Looney v. Looney, 336 Ark. 542, 546-47, 986 S.W.2d 858, 861 (1999); Office of Child Support Enforcement v. Williams, 338 Ark. 347, 350, 995 S.W.2d 338, 339 (1999). Furthermore, res judicata bars not only the relitigation of claims that were actually litigated in the first suit, but also those that could have been litigated. Kulbeth v. Purdom, 305 Ark. 19, 22, 805 S.W.2d 622, 623 (1991). The purpose of res judicata is to put an end to litigation by preventing a party who had one fair trial on a matter from relitigating the matter a second time. Id.

We have applied this doctrine even in the context of family law. In Williams, we held that res judicata applied to bar a man from contesting his...

To continue reading

Request your trial
18 cases
  • Powell v. Lane
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 11 Diciembre 2008
    ...both suits involve the same claim or cause of action; and (5) both suits involve the same parties or their privies. Moon v. Marquez, 338 Ark. 636, 999 S.W.2d 678 (1999). Furthermore, res judicata bars not only the relitigation of claims that were actually litigated in the first suit, but al......
  • Linder v. Linder
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 25 Abril 2002
    ...orders are subject to modification in order to respond to changed circumstances and the best interest of the child. Moon v. Marquez, 338 Ark. 636, 999 S.W.2d 678 (1999); Thurston v. Pinkstaff, 292 Ark. 385, 730 S.W.2d 239 (1987). For example, in Tucker v. Turner, 195 Ark. 632, 636, 113 S.W.......
  • Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 21 Noviembre 2002
    ...de novo on the record, but we do not reverse a finding of fact by the chancery court unless it is clearly erroneous. Moon v. Marquez, 338 Ark. 636, 999 S.W.2d 678 (1999); Office of Child Support Enforcement v. Eagle, 336 Ark. 51, 983 S.W.2d 429 (1999). A finding of fact by the chancery cour......
  • Linder v. Linder
    • United States
    • Arkansas Court of Appeals
    • 25 Abril 2002
    ...orders are subject to modification in order to respond to changed circumstances and the best interest of the child. Mood v. Marquez, 338 Ark. 636, 999 S.W.2d 678 (1999); Thurston v. Pinkstaff, 292 Ark. 385, 730 S.W.2d 239 (1987). For example, in Tucker v. Tucker, 195 Ark. 632, 636, 113 S.W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT