A divorce or child custody lawsuit is easily one of the hardest and most strenuous things a person could go through. Our team of family law attorneys come from various of life experiences and many of them have gone through their own divorce or child custody case, not to mention serving thousands of families across Texas. In our experience, it is best to be honest with clients so they are mentally prepared for what is coming in regards to their custody or divorce case. Our modern approach to family law allows us to achieve favorable outcomes for our clients. You can use these tips to educate yourself on what to expect in your case.
Here are the 10 Things to Know About Custody and Divorce in Harris County:
Harris County requires that each parent take a co-parenting course in divorces with suits affecting parent-child relationships or motions to modify custody filed on or after May 1, 1997. These courses typically last 4-hours and may be completed in-person or online. Additionally, they must be completed before parties appear for final orders. Once successfully completed, parties will receive a certificate. This certificate must be filed prior to any testimony on final orders. Although the idea of taking a course may seem unappealing, clients often express that they learn a great deal from the experience. Below are some of the courses which have been approved by Harris County Family courts. Available Online Parenting Courses:
Available In-Person Parenting Courses:
Most courts in Harris County require that parties attend mediation prior to hearings on temporary orders in all cases where custody is at issue. This does not mean that parties must settle their case. However, if parties do not attend mediation when required to do so, a court will refuse to set temporary orders hearings. Parties must also attend mediation for an attempt to settle final orders before courts will set cases for final trial.
Before temporary orders hearings, courts require search party to exchange the following:
Harris County requires that each party produce the following items no later than 10 days prior to trial:
Non-compliance with any of these requirements may be grounds for sanctions by a court.
Harris County requires that, in every divorce case or case where child or spousal support is at issue, each party must disclose certain information to the other party without having to wait for a discovery request:
For Divorces & Annulments:
If Child & Spousal Support is at Issue:
If you have a case in Harris County, it is advisable to leave for your hearing at least one hour prior to your scheduled start time. This way, your attorney will also have time to meet with you prior to the hearing if he/she needs to. Since you want to be outside of the courtroom at least 30 minutes before the hearing, you should plan to spend 15-20 minutes parking, walking to the courthouse from your vehicle, going through security, and waiting on an elevator.
The Harris County courthouse has a dress code. Dress as if you are going to a job interview for an office position. This means that shorts, sunglasses, hats, etc. are strongly discouraged.
Harris County has a strict “no kids in the courtroom” policy. This means that it is each party’s responsibility to secure childcare on the day of the hearing. Children are not allowed in the courtroom at any time. If a judge ever finds it necessary to speak with a child, they will do so in their chambers.
Judges have the authority, in suits involving custody issues or support, to listen to a child’s testimony. However, situations like these are uncommon and will always be scheduled ahead of time. This testimony will take place in private, with a judge. No parties may be present while the child is testifying. Judges can take the opinions of children at least 12 years old into consideration when awarding custody.
In suits involving custody or child support, the Court may appoint an Amicus Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem. An Amicus or Ad Litem is an official or attorney tasked with securing the best interest of the children they represent. If a court appoints an Amicus or Ad Litem, the parties will be responsible for their fees (which are usually substantially less than those charged by personal counsel). The Amicus or Ad Litem will report their findings to the judge to use in their support or custody determination. The Court Won’t Set Trial on Following weeks:
During these difficult and emotional times it is vital for you to work with an attorney who is reliable, honest, and knowledgable on how to handle the nuances of family law in Harris County.
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Brian and his staff were great. Brian’s direction and expertise provided me with the legal information relevant for my needs over several years now. He listens and is steadfast which gave me comfort in the courses of action. I highly recommend him.Brian and his staff were great. Brian’s direction and expertise provided me with the legal information...
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