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Special Information About Dallas, Collin & Tarrant County Cases
The Dallas-Ft. Worth area is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and each county has chosen a different way to deal with the increasing number of family law cases filed. All will order Mediation if requested; some order it anyway, depending on the Judge. Dallas has 7 full time specialty divorce and family law courts, and also 7 full time associate judges; so in effect, Dallas has at least 14 family Courts running at the same time. Tarrant County also has specialty family law courts (7) and associate judges for each of them. Both Collin County (8 District Courts) and Denton County (6 District Courts), where the real phenomenal growth has been, have general jurisdiction Courts that hear civil and criminal cases as well as family law cases. Therefore your case may be handled differently depending on where it is filed, and the way each individual Court in that county arranges its docket. While there is virtually no chance of getting a contested case to trial in less than a year in one (unmentioned) County; contested cases have been seen in trial in as little as three months elsewhere. The time from the request for a trial to the date the trial is set or scheduled is often a function of the time requested to try the case in court. The longer the trial is expected to take, the farther off it is likely to be scheduled. But most cases ultimately end up being agreed without the risk and expense of a full blown trial, and can be finalized anytime the agreement and the parties are ready.

Each county may have special local rules in addition to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The Dallas Family Court rules are here, the Collin County rules are here, Denton County's are here, and Tarrant County's are here.

The Dallas Family Courts have implemented a standing order that is applicable in ALL divorces and family law cases when they are filed. The standing order grants relief intended to preserve the financial and property status quo and protect the children. This standing order often eliminates the need for a temporary restraining order, and therefore tends to save the clients money. Collin County has also implemented such a standing order.

In Texas, the Court cannot grant a divorce without disposing of property issues. Additionally, if children were born to or adopted during the marriage, orders concerning their conservatorship (custody) and support will be determined at the same time. In other words, it all happens at the same time in the same proceeding (for lawyers-- no bifurcation). Of course, the Court must have jurisdiction to grant a divorce, which is based on one or both parties domicile and residency in not only the State of Texas but also in the County where the action is to be filed.

This petition is filed with the District Clerk, and your case is assigned to a Court. Each county has one or more courts handling family cases. In Dallas, there are seven Family Law District Courts. In Ft. Worth, there are also seven. The filing of cases is random. Your lawyer cannot select the Court or the Judge. In other counties, the courts that handle divorces also handle general civil cases and also criminal cases; for instance, Collin County has eight District Courts that handle family law cases as well as the other types of cases; Denton County has six. In some smaller counties, a County Court at Law may also handle divorce and family law matters.

After processing at the Courthouse, the Original Petition for Divorce must be delivered to your spouse. The most common formal means of delivery is by having a Sheriff, Constable, or private process server hand your spouse the petition and a Citation. This is called "service." Citation is essentially a cover sheet that tells your spouse a lawsuit has been filed, and there is a limited number of days in which a response must be made. In some instances, you may wish to personally deliver or mail the papers to your spouse. However, this cannot be safely done if you have requested a Temporary Restraining Order or a hearing, because you can not show that your spouse has been legally served with notice to be at the hearing. Additionally, if your spouse does not waive service or file an answer in Court, your delivery does not constitute effective service, and this would have to be accomplished before your case could proceed.

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