Recent Developments in Family Law

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

I am noticing some developments in divorce and family law in Central Texas over the past several months:

Changing Location of Cases:

Texas is growing. And this growth is phenomenal around all major cities in the State – Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Such disperse nature of the growth also speaks for the geographic distribution of caseloads. For example, you’ve probably read about the really rapid population growth in the Greater Austin area. If you look at the details of these recent developments, little of the growth is in the Austin city limits. Instead, most of the growth is in Williamson & Hays Counties. The other surrounding counties are also growing fast. I’ve seen my caseload go from 80% Travis County (Austin) 6 years ago to 50% now, with the rest distributed in the surrounding counties.

Rise of Modifications:

My caseload of modifications used to be about 25%. Now it is over half of my workload. There are many reasons for this, but much of it is driven by our mobile society. Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio – all these major metropolitan areas have a very large number of people arriving each year (and a smaller number leaving). Moves by divorced parents with kids cause all kinds of problems that prior Court Orders don’t deal with well, so they have to go to Court to fix those problems.

Interstate and International Issues:

Traditionally, family law cases in Texas mostly involved parties from this State. However, this has changed a lot. With increased interstate movements of people, we now get to see a lot of cases involving interstate issues. For example, we used to barely represent anyone outside of Greater Austin. Now 25% of our caseload are clients outside of this area. Half of those live outside of Texas, and a few even live outside of the USA. Our mobile society and a series of uniform state laws (the UCCJEA – Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) have made interstate custody litigation more common. The same is true for international issues too. As the Texas population grows more diverse and international, we are experiencing a lot of cases with parties from multicultural, multi-religious backgrounds. You can expect even more changes in the years ahead.


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