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Standing Orders

What are standing orders?

In family law cases, standing orders are a set of rules established by the judges (either county or district court) of a specific county. They are a form of temporary restraining orders, which are discussed in more detail below. They can exist in any family law case and are most commonly seen in divorces and any case that may involve a child (also referred to as Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship).

What are standing orders for?

The purpose of standing orders is to either prohibit a party from doing a certain thing, or require a party to do a certain thing in order to maintain the status quo until a judge can hear the issues and make a ruling. Standing orders generally cover three areas: children, the parties' behavior, and property, which includes finances, business records, insurance, as well as real and personal property such as houses and cars. For an example of a standing order, see Bexar County’s standing orders.

Does every county use standing orders?

No. So far, 76 counties in Texas—including most large counties like BexarDallas, and Travis—require them. Some large counties, like Tarrant and Harris, do not have them.

How do I know if my county has a standing order requirement?

The best way to find out is to visit the website for the county clerk or district clerk in the county where you are going to file your lawsuit, and see if that county has a standing order. You can also call the clerk and ask them if their county has standing orders. 

What do I have to do if my county has a standing order?

If your county requires a standing order, find the order (usually on the clerk’s website), print it out, and attach it to your pleading (usually called a petition) when you file the suit. Read the standing orders carefully. If you do not understand the standing orders, talk to a lawyer.

When do standing orders take effect?

Standing orders take effect the moment the pleading (petition) starting the lawsuit is filed. For example, if you are filing for divorce in Bexar County (a county which requires a standing order), you would download the standing order from the Bexar County District Clerk’s website, and attach it to the end of your original petition for divorce. The moment you file the petition, the standing order is in effect.

 

How long do standing orders last?

A standing order is effective until the court enters an order that either changes the standing order or eliminates it. And, once your case is final, the standing order will no longer be in effect.

How are standing orders different from temporary restraining orders (“TROs”)?

Standing orders are a type of temporary restraining order (TRO). Standing orders and TROs often cover the same things. But standing orders are not requested by a party. They are imposed on all parties by the judges without anyone requesting it. In contrast, a party must request a TRO.

Unlike a standing order, a TRO by law can only last up to 14 days, with one extension of time allowed under certain circumstances. Before the 14 day period expires, all parties must appear before the court and have a hearing to determine whether the TRO will become a temporary order.  If it becomes a temporary order, it can remain in effect until the court terminates it, modifies it, or the case is finalized.

Temporary restraining orders can do two things that standing orders cannot. TROs can exclude a party from the marital residence upon a showing of special circumstances or deny a party access to the children. Standing orders typically cannot and do not exclude a party from the residence, or deny access to the children.   

What happens if a party violates a standing order?

A standing order is a court order. If you violate a court order, you could be held in contempt of court. Talk to a lawyer about the consequences of violating a standing order.