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I need to combine my SAPCR with my divorce.

Divorce

Learn how to combine a SAPCR case with a divorce case filed in the same or different Texas counties.
Overview

Guide Overview

In this guide, learn what to do if you have an active Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship or Modification and you want to file–or have filed–a divorce case.  

Read about:  

  • The law,  

  • The procedures to follow before or after filing for divorce, and  

  • The effects of combining or transferring the case. 

Do not use this guide if: 

  • The Department of Family and Protective Services (also known as DFPS or CPS) is involved in your case, or 

  • If the parties looking to divorce are under a gestational agreement that is in effect establishing a parent-child relationship between the parties as the intended parents. 

Research Tips

Start by reading the following: 

This guide can’t answer every question. Researching the laws and regulations governing this type of case is important. For more information on how to conduct this research, read the Legal Research Guide. The law about transferring and combining SAPCR and divorce cases is in Texas Family Code chapter 6 and chapter 155

You can go to a law library to conduct legal research. There is a directory of public local law libraries at Law Libraries in Texas.  

Examples of books and guides to look for at a law library:  

  • O’Connor's Texas Family Law Handbook, 
  • Texas Family Law Practice Manual, 
  • Texas Family Code Annotated, and 
  • Texas Jurisprudence. 

A Texas resident who's not near a law library may access more information by registering for a free Texas State Law Library Account. With this account, you can access a variety of online sources.  

Common questions about Divorce

If you have an active custody case and a divorce is filed in a different Texas county, you must file a motion to transfer the custody case into the divorce court’s jurisdiction. The same goes for when a custody case is filed in a separate county from an active divorce. 

If your custody case is already finished and you do not want to modify or enforce it at the time of your divorce, read and use this guide: I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place. 

If you have an active SAPCR in one Texas county and a divorce filed in another, you must file a motion to transfer the SAPCR to the divorce court.  

Use the Motion to Transfer instructions and forms in this guide if you need to transfer your case. Also, read Combining SAPCR and Divorce Cases for more details.

If you file for divorce in the same county as the existing SAPCR, you will file a Motion to Consolidate the cases. Read Combining SAPCR and Divorce Cases to learn more.

If the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is involved in your active SAPCR, you must give notice and have the OAG sign off on the transfer.  

Even if the SAPCR case is closed but the OAG was involved, you must give notice and have the OAG sign off on the transfer. 

The OAG is usually involved in your case if your child has ever received TANF or Medicaid. If that is the case, you must also notify the OAG Child Support Division (and prove that you did so). To send notice to the OAG: 

  • Send your Motion by Email—You can scan a file-stamped copy of your Motion and email it. Find the email address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Email Addresses for Child Support Offices. Write the cause number and the county where you filed your Motion in the subject line of the email. Print a copy of your email. This is your proof. Bring it with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

  • Send your Motion by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested—Or you can mail a copy of your Motion by certified mail return receipt requested. The post office has the forms for certified mail return receipt requested. Find the mailing address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Mailing Addresses for Child Support Offices. The post office will give you a receipt when you mail the Motion. The OAG will sign the return receipt (often called the “green card”) and mail it back to you. This is your proof. Bring the receipt and the return receipt (green card) with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

Learn more about the OAG's role in Why You're In IV-D Court.

Instructions & Forms

Warning: These instructions provide general information and are not a substitution for legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.  

These instructions explain the steps to request to consolidate an active SAPCR or modification and divorce filed separately in the same Texas county.

Checklist Steps

Consolidation is appropriate if you have a pending divorce and SAPCR case involving the same children filed in the same county. 

The motion to consolidate must be filed before the trial or final hearing in either case, not later than the 30th day before the date of the hearing. 

Consolidation may not always be appropriate, so consult with a family law lawyer to help you determine if consolidation is the best option for your situation.

Fill out the Motion to Consolidate with Order (called the Motion for short). This motion explains why consolidation of the cases is necessary and provides details about the cases involved. 

When you fill out the Motion: 

  • Print your answers clearly in black or blue ink. 

  • Do not leave blanks. 

  • Mark the correct box for standing (either Petitioner or Respondent). 

  • Fill in the style and cause number of each case exactly as they appear on other court documents. 

Make two copies of the completed Motion with Notice of Hearing and Order. You will need to file copies in both the SAPCR and divorce courts.

File (turn in) your completed Motion with the clerk of the court where the custody case is pending. 

To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. Read How to E-File to learn about e-filing and solutions to common e-filing mistakes.  

To file your consolidation form in person, take your Motion to Consolidate (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the appropriate county. 

At the clerk’s office: 

  • Turn in your Motion. 
  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee). You can call the clerk’s office ahead of time to learn the filing fee for your case. 
  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for the consolidation. 
  • The clerk will file stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies. One copy for you and one copy is for your spouse. 

Your spouse should already be included in the list of people who will receive notice if they have an email or mailing address on file with the court. If they do not, provide one for the court. 

If your child has ever received TANF or Medicaid, you must also notify the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Child Support Division (and prove that you did so). To send notice to the OAG: 

  • Send your Motion by Email—You can scan a file-stamped copy of your Motion and email it. Find the email address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Email Addresses for Child Support Offices. Write the cause number and the county where you filed your Motion in the subject line of the email. Print a copy of your email. This is your proof. Bring it with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

  • Send your Motion by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested—Or you can mail a copy of your Motion by certified mail return receipt requested. The post office has the forms for certified mail return receipt requested. Find the mailing address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Mailing Addresses for Child Support Offices. The post office will give you a receipt when you mail the Motion. The OAG will sign the return receipt (often called the “green card”) and mail it back to you. This is your proof. Bring the receipt and the return receipt (green card) with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

After you file the motion in the court, the court will review the motion to consolidate. The motion will likely be heard on submission, meaning the court will read the pleadings on file but will not hear arguments. But, if any party wants to request a hearing, the court may grant one. 

If the court decides consolidation is required, it will grant the motion and the divorce court will be notified. 

After the divorce court is notified, all the files will be sent to the divorce court and filed into the divorce case. 

The SAPCR will then become a part of the divorce, and all decisions will be made by the divorce court.

Forms Required

Warning: These instructions provide general information and are not a substitution for legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.  

These instructions explain the steps to request to transfer and consolidate an active SAPCR and divorce filed separately in different Texas counties. 

Use these instructions if: 

  • You or the other party has filed for divorce, 

  • There is an active SAPCR in a different Texas county than where the divorce (this includes original cases, modifications, and enforcements), and 

  • The Department of Family and Protective Services (also known as DFPS and CPS) is not involved in your case. 

Checklist Steps

First, you will need to find the counties where the SAPCR and divorce are located. The jurisdiction of each court is determined by Texas Family Code 152.201. Once you find them, read each county’s Local Rules for the transfer procedures. Many courts have similar laws but may have specific procedures or forms that need to be filed. 

If you are not sure which county the matter is in, you can complete and submit an Inquiry on Continuing Jurisdiction Form available on the Texas Department of Health and Human Services’ Vital Statistics page.  

Under Texas Family Code 6.406, there is a “mandatory joinder” of the SAPCR with divorce cases if there is no court of continuing jurisdiction. Mandatory joinder is when the court must combine several lawsuits into one lawsuit, usually because the issues and the facts are the same for all the parties to the suits. 

Texas Family Code 6.407(a) requires a pending SAPCR to be transferred to the court in which the divorce is filed. Transfer of SAPCR proceedings is also mandatory under Texas Family Code 103.002(b) and 155.201(a)

Fill out the Motion to Transfer and Consolidate with Order (called the Motion for short). This motion explains why the transfer of the case is necessary and provides details about the cases involved. 

When you fill out the Motion: 

  • Print your answers clearly in black or blue ink. 

  • Do not leave blanks. 

  • Mark the correct box for standing (either Petitioner or Respondent). 

  • Fill in the style and cause number of each case exactly as they appear on other court documents. 

Make two copies of the completed Motion with Notice of Hearing and Order. You will need to file in the county where the SAPCR is pending and keep one for yourself. 

A Motion to Transfer under Texas Family Code 155.201(a) may be filed at any time.

File (turn in) your completed Motion with the clerk of the court where the SAPCR is pending. 

To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. Read How to E-File to learn about e-filing and solutions to common e-filing mistakes. 

To file your transfer form in person, take your Motion to Transfer and Consolidate (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the appropriate county. 

At the clerk’s office

  • Turn in your Motion. 

  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee). You can call the clerk’s office ahead of time to learn the filing fee for your case. 

  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for the transfer. 

  • The clerk will file stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies. One copy for you and one copy is for your spouse. 

Your spouse should already be included in the list of people who will receive notice if they have an email or mailing address on file with the court. If they do not, provide one for the court. 

If your child has ever received TANF or Medicaid, you must also notify the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Child Support Division (and prove that you did so). To send notice to the OAG: 

  • Send your Motion by Email—You can scan a file-stamped copy of your Motion and email it. Find the email address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Email Addresses for Child Support Offices. Write the cause number and the county where you filed your Motion in the subject line of the email. Print a copy of your email. This is your proof. Bring it with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

  • Send your Motion by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested—Or you can mail a copy of your Motion by certified mail return receipt requested. The post office has the forms for certified mail return receipt requested. Find the mailing address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Mailing Addresses for Child Support Offices. The post office will give you a receipt when you mail the Motion. The OAG will sign the return receipt (often called the “green card”) and mail it back to you. This is your proof. Bring the receipt and the return receipt (green card) with you when you go to court to finish your case.

Texas Family Code 155.204 explains the process of transferring a SAPCR. After filing, if the Motion is not agreed, you must wait 21 days in case the other party wants to file a “controverting affidavit.” A controverting affidavit is a document filed by the other party objecting to the transfer. A controverting affidavit is like an answer the other party files in a SAPCR or divorce proceeding. Use the Texas Courts Answer Deadline Calculator to find the day the controverting affidavit is due. 

It is rare for a controverting affidavit to be filed when a transfer is mandatory by law.

If the other party files a controverting (also known as objecting or opposing) affidavit, go to Step 6

If the Motion is agreed or no controverting affidavit is filed, go to Step 7

In the rare event that the other party files an objecting affidavit, the court will set a hearing on the motion to transfer. All parties will receive at least 10 days' notice of the hearing.  

During the hearing, all parties can present evidence only related to the transfer and nothing else. Read Gathering and Presenting Evidence for information on evidence and what to do with it at the hearing. 

At the end of the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant or deny the transfer. Any order transferring or refusing to transfer the SAPCR is not subject to interlocutory appeal. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal that happens before the entire case is resolved.

The transfer order is not subject to ordinary appeal, either, because it is not a final order. This means that the court’s order on the transfer can only be appealed through the regular appeals process after a final judgment or order is made in the entire case.

To learn more about appeals, read Appealing a Judgment in Texas. If you wish to appeal the court’s decision, it is best to talk to a family law lawyer about your options and to be represented.

If no controverting affidavit is filed or the parties agree to the transfer, the SAPCR will be transferred without a hearing to the divorce court within 21 days after the end of the notice period. Use the Deadline Calculator to calculate the last day of the notice period. 

If a hearing is required and the court grants the transfer, the SAPCR will be transferred at least 21 days after the order is made. 

Within 10 days of an order of transfer being signed, the clerk of the transferring court will send the new court all necessary case documents to the divorce court. Read Combining SAPCR and Divorce Cases to learn more about the transfer process. 

Forms Required

Warning: These instructions provide general information and are not a substitution for legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.  

These instructions explain the steps to request to transfer and consolidate a finalized SAPCR in one Texas county with a pending divorce filed separately in a different Texas county. 

Use these instructions if: 

  • You or the other party has filed for divorce, 

  • There is a finalized SAPCR in a different Texas county than where the divorce (this includes original cases, modifications, and enforcements), 

  • The Department of Family and Protective Services (also known as DFPS and CPS) is not involved in your case, and 

  • You do not want to change the terms in the current SAPCR order. 

Checklist Steps

First, you will need to find the counties where the SAPCR and divorce are located. The jurisdiction of each court is determined by Texas Family Code 152.201. Once you find them, read each county’s Local Rules for the transfer procedures. Many courts have similar laws but may have specific procedures or forms that need to be filed. 

If you are not sure which county the matter is in, you can complete and submit an Inquiry on Continuing Jurisdiction Form available on the Texas Department of Health and Human Services’ Vital Statistics page. 

Texas Family Code 6.407(b) says that if the child is under the continuing jurisdiction of another court (like when a final order has been made in a SAPCR), a party to the divorce may ask the court for a transfer. After the request, the SAPCR court shall transfer jurisdiction (authority) to the divorce court. Texas Family Code 155.202

You will need to determine if the other party will agree to the transfer of the case or not. The SAPCR court is not required to transfer the finalized SAPCR case to the divorce court, it only will at its own discretion. 

If you are the petitioner in the divorce, you must file the Motion to Transfer in the SAPCR court at the same time you file the starting divorce forms in the divorce court. 

If you are any other party to the case, a Motion to Transfer must be made by the Monday after the 20th day you were served with notice of the divorce.  

Read Filing for Divorce with Children and use the Deadline Calculator to learn more about your deadlines. 

Texas Family Code 155.204(b).

Fill out the Motion to Transfer and Consolidate with Order (called the Motion for short). This motion explains why transfer of the case is necessary and provides details about the cases involved. 

When you fill out the Motion: 

  • Print your answers clearly in black or blue ink. 

  • Do not leave blanks. 

  • Mark the correct box for standing (either Petitioner or Respondent). 

  • Fill in the style and cause number of each case exactly as they appear on other court documents. 

Make two copies of the completed Motion with Notice of Hearing and Order. You will need to file in the county where the SAPCR was finalized and keep one for yourself. 

File (turn in) your completed Motion with the clerk of the court where the SAPCR was finalized. 

To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. Read How to E-File to learn about e-filing and solutions to common e-filing mistakes. 

To file your transfer form in person, take your Motion to Transfer and Consolidate (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the appropriate county. 

At the clerk’s office: 

  • Turn in your Motion. 

  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee). You can call the clerk’s office ahead of time to learn the filing fee for your case. 

  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for the transfer. 

  • The clerk will file stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies. One copy for you and one copy is for your spouse. 

Your spouse should already be included in the list of people who will receive notice if they have an email or mailing address on file with the court. If they do not, provide one for the court. 

If your child has ever received TANF or Medicaid, you must also notify the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Child Support Division (and prove that you did so). To send notice to the OAG: 

  • Send your Motion by Email—You can scan a file-stamped copy of your Motion and email it. Find the email address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Email Addresses for Child Support Offices. Write the cause number and the county where you filed your Motion in the subject line of the email. Print a copy of your email. This is your proof. Bring it with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

  • Send your Motion by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested—Or you can mail a copy of your Motion by certified mail return receipt requested. The post office has the forms for certified mail return receipt requested. Find the mailing address for the OAG child support office in the county where your case is filed here: Mailing Addresses for Child Support Offices. The post office will give you a receipt when you mail the Motion. The OAG will sign the return receipt (often called the “green card”) and mail it back to you. This is your proof. Bring the receipt and the return receipt (green card) with you when you go to court to finish your case. 

Texas Family Code 155.204 explains the process of transferring a SAPCR. After filing, if the Motion is not agreed, you must wait 21 days in case the other party wants to file a “controverting affidavit.” A controverting affidavit is a document filed by the other party objecting to the transfer. A controverting affidavit is like an answer the other party files in a SAPCR or divorce proceeding. Use the Texas Courts Answer Deadline Calculator to find the day the controverting affidavit is due. 

If the other party files a controverting (also known as objecting or opposing) affidavit, go to Step 7

If the Motion is agreed or no controverting affidavit is filed, go to Step 8

If the other party files an objecting affidavit, the court will set a hearing on the motion to transfer. All parties will receive at least 10 days' notice of the hearing.  

During the hearing, all parties are allowed to present evidence only related to the transfer and nothing else. Read Gathering and Presenting Evidence for information on evidence and what to do with it at the hearing. 

At the end of the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant or deny the transfer. Any order transferring or refusing to transfer the SAPCR is not subject to interlocutory appeal. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal that happens before the entire case is resolved.

The transfer order is not subject to ordinary appeal, either, because it is not a final order. This means that the court’s order on the transfer can only be appealed through the regular appeals process after a final judgment or order is made in the entire case.

To learn more about appeals, read Appealing a Judgment in Texas. If you wish to appeal the court’s decision, it is best to talk to a family law lawyer about your options and to be represented.

If no controverting affidavit is filed or the parties agree to the transfer, the SAPCR will be transferred without a hearing to the divorce court within 21 days after the end of the notice period. 

If a hearing is required and the court grants the transfer, the SAPCR will be transferred at least 21 days after the order is made. 

Within 10 days of an order of transfer being signed, the clerk of the transferring court will send the new court all necessary case documents to the divorce court. Read Combining SAPCR and Divorce Cases to learn more about the transfer process. 

Forms Required

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