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How to Set a Contested Final Hearing (Family Law)

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

This article discusses the steps to set a contested final hearing in a family law case.

If you and the other party do not agree on the terms of the case, you will need to set a final hearing for the judge to make a decision. Either party can set the final hearing. There are specific rules of evidence and procedure that you must follow at a final hearing, so it is important to consult with an attorney before setting a final hearing. 

What is a contested final hearing?

If you and the other side do not agree on all the issues in your case, you can ask a judge to decide those issues at a contested final hearing. The judge will listen to both sides and then make a decision. You will be expected to follow court rules of evidence and procedure at a contested final hearing.  

Note: Contested final hearing can be complicated. It’s important to talk with a lawyer about your case before setting a contested final hearing.

If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:

Can I set a contested final hearing if I’m the Respondent?

Yes. Either party can set a contested final hearing. If you are the Respondent, be sure to file a Counter-Petition. A Counter-Petition says what orders you want the judge to make.

How much notice do I have to give the other side?

You must give the other side at least 45 days’ notice of the final hearing. You cannot simply tell the other side about the hearing. You must give notice in a way that is legally acceptable and be able to prove that you did so to the judge. Follow the steps below.

What are pre-trial forms?

Pre-trial forms give detailed information about your case to the judge. Ask the clerk if pre-trial forms are required for your case. If so, fill out and turn in your pretrial forms as required. Send a copy of your pretrial forms to the other side. Bring the other copy with you to your final hearing.

What is mediation?

In mediation, an independent person (the mediator) will try to help you and the other side reach an agreement. Be sure to talk to a lawyer first.  A lawyer can help you understand your options and negotiate a fair agreement.

Mediation is required in some counties before you can have a contested final hearing. Ask the clerk if mediation is required for your case. If there has been family violence, you can file a motion to ask the judge to waive the mediation requirement. Call the Family Violence Legal Line at 800-374-4673 for free advice if there has been family violence.

How do I get ready for my hearing?

Every hearing is different. It’s important to talk with a lawyer about your particular case.

Are the steps different if my case is uncontested?

Yes. You don’t need a contested final hearing if your case is uncontested (agreed or default). Call the clerk’s office to learn when the court hears uncontested family law cases.

What are the steps to set a contested final hearing?

For a detailed explanation of what to do in each of the steps below, use the TexasLawHelp guide I need to set a contested final hearing in a family law case.

Click on the “Instructions & Forms” tab.

Then click on “Steps to Set a Contested Final Hearing in a Family Law Case.”

The steps are:

  1. Print a Notice of Final Hearing form.
  2. Learn when the judge schedules contested final hearings.
  3. Talk to the other side (if possible).
  4. Schedule the contested final hearing.
  5. Fill out the Notice of Final Hearing form.
  6. Make copies of the Notice of Final Hearing form.
  7. File the Notice of Final Hearing form.
  8. Send a file-stamped copy of the Notice of Final Hearing to the other side.

Related Guides

  • I need to set a contested final hearing in a family law case.

    Contested Hearings

    This guide tells you how to set a contested final hearing in a family law case.
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    Related Forms

  • Notice of Final Hearing - Divorce no Children [SET A or SET D]

    FM-DivAD-403

    Use this form to let your spouse know that there is a court date for finalizing your divorce.
  • Notice of Final Hearing - Divorce with Children [Set B]

    FM-DivB-403

    Use this form to let your spouse know that there is a court date for finalizing your divorce.
  • Notice of Final Hearing - Divorce with Children and Prior Order [SET C]

    FM-DivC-403

    Use to set a final hearing and notify the other party.
  • Notice of Final Hearing [SAPCR / Modification / Paternity / Name Change]

    FM-Chil-403

    Use to set a final hearing. Notify the other party.