Motion to Appear Remotely in a Family Law Case

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

In a divorce suit, you can ask the court to appear by videoconference (like Zoom), telephone, or other electronic means. 

Checklist Steps

You may not even have to file this motion to appear remotely in court.

Many courts in Texas allow people to use videoconferencing or telephonic appearances after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Start by finding out what your court is doing. TexasLawHelp's Virtual Court County-by-County section has state court procedures for 24 Texas counties. If your county is not included, you can check your county's local rules of procedure or contact the court coordinator. You can usually reach the court coordinator by calling the office of the judge in the court where your case is pending. To find a list of judges’ offices, check the Judicial Directory on the website of the Office of Court Administration.

Important: Court coordinators, administrators, and clerks cannot give you legal advice. Please read What Court Staff Can and Cannot Do to learn more.

The Motion to Appear in Court Remotely (called the Motion for short) tells the judge you want to appear remotely for your court appearance (either by videoconference, telephone, or another available electronic means).

When you fill out the Motion:

  • Print your answers completely and clearly in blue or black ink.
  • Do not leave blanks, except for where the judge will sign.
  • Mark the correct boxes for your request.
  • Fill in the top of the form (the part that asks for the cause number; the names of the people involved in the suit; the court number; and the county) exactly as it appears in other court documents.
  • Include your name and contact information and the name and contact information for all other people involved.
  • Sign it.

When courts are hearing cases by videoconference and telephone, it is extremely important that all parties’ contact information is up to date so that everyone affected by your motion knows about the next steps.

Read through it carefully and check the correct boxes. Fill in the blanks that apply to your situation, such as:

  • Your relationship to the child;
  • Whether everyone agrees to file this motion;
  • Whether you are asking for remote participation in court proceedings;
  • If you are asking the court to hold the hearing someplace other than the courthouse;
  • Whether you are asking for remote interviews with children who are the subject of the case; and
  • Whether you are going to use affidavits or unsworn declarations as evidence.

Next, you will fill out part of the Order on Motion to Appear Remotely in Court (“Order”). This form is for the judge to sign to grant your Motion to Appear Remotely in Court.

The judge will check the boxes next to each number in the order that applies. For example, "2. Remote Participation in Proceedings (Check if applicable.)" will be marked by the judge.

If the other side has a lawyer, send the forms to them for their signature.

Note: If the other side (or the other side’s lawyer) will not sign both forms, the motion is not agreed. This means it is contested.

File your completed Motion to Appear Remotely in Court form and the proposed Order forms with the court.

To file online, go to E-FileTexas and follow the instructions. You can read How to E-File and the guide I want to electronically file (e-file) my documents if you have questions.

To file your forms in person, take your motion and copies to the District Clerk’s office in the county where your legal matter is proceeding.

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in your Motion and copies.
  • Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order you need to follow or attach to any of your documents. Also, ask if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for family law proceedings. (You can also check the clerk’s website because fees are often listed online.)
  • The clerk will “file-stamp” your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give one copy back to you.
  • There should not be a filing fee for this type of motion. You should check with the clerk’s office to make sure. If there is a fee, and you cannot afford it, you might be able to get your filing fees waived. Read Court Fees & Fee Waivers for more information.

Follow the clerk’s instructions on how to present your Motion to a judge. Sometimes the judge will sign the order without needing to hear from you. Other times, they will want to have a hearing. The hearing may be by videoconference or phone.

If the judge signs your order, contact the clerk’s office to make sure it is on file with them. A list of district and county clerks is available on the Judicial Directory and on the district clerk’s website.

Ask the clerk whether you need to let anyone else at the courthouse know that the Motion allowing videoconferencing or telephonic access was granted. You may need to let the court administrator know of the change so the court’s calendar can be updated.

Send a file-stamped copy of the signed Order to the other side by email, fax, USPS, or commercial delivery. Keep proof that you sent it. You must bring proof when you appear online or by phone for court on your new hearing date.


Source URL: https://texaslawhelp.org/checklist/motion-to-appear-remotely-in-a-family-law-case