Important Court and Case Information

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. 

Checklist Steps

When talking to anyone on the court staff, remember that they are required to remain impartial and neutral. They cannot give you legal advice or give you their opinion on anything in your case. Read What Court Staff Can and Cannot Do for a full list.

Depending on the court, there are a number of people on the court staff.

  • Court Coordinators oversee the operation of the court. This means they manage the court’s schedule (docket) and are the main contact for anything hearing-related. A coordinator will tell you when the court is available for hearings and how you can submit evidence for a hearing. Texas Government Code 74.102. The Texas Judicial Branch website has a full list of court coordinator duties available on their website.
  • Court Administrators’ roles are similar to a coordinator or a clerk. An administrator’s role will depend on the court
  • Court Clerks make sure the documents filed in the case are correctly filled out and are placed in the case file for proper recording. Clerks are in charge of getting all documents filed with the court out to the judge and all parties to the case. If there is no court coordinator or administrator for the court, the clerk will also perform their duties. Texas Government Code 51.303.
  • Court Reporters take a verbatim (word-for-word) record of court proceedings such as hearings, trials, and depositions. In the event you need a transcript of a hearing, you can request it from the court reporter and pay any fees. Texas Government Code 52.001.
  • Court Bailiffs are officers of the court. Bailiffs are present in the courtroom during all proceedings and are responsible for maintaining security and order during court proceedings. Texas Government Code 53.006.

Each court can have different roles for its court staff. Check your local court’s policies and procedures for confirmation. To find your court's contact information, you can search the Office of Court Administration's Judicial Directory Database or go to your county's district court website.

Courts use scheduling orders to keep your case moving toward a resolution or finalization. Scheduling orders may differ in every court but typically contain dates and deadlines for trials, hearings, motions, mediation, and other important parts of a divorce.

There are certain waiting periods, requirements, and deadlines that affect the scheduling orders which will determine how long it takes for a divorce to move through the courts before it can be finished.

  • 20+ day waiting period—From the day your spouse is served, your spouse must have at least 20 days plus the next Monday at 10 a.m. to file an Answer.
    • Find the day your spouse was served on a calendar, count out 20 more days, then go to the next Monday. This is the last day of your spouse’s answer period.
    • But, if your spouse files an answer any time before you finish your divorce it will still count. The 20+ day waiting period may or may not fall within the 60-day waiting period.
  • 10+ day waiting period—The constable, sheriff, or private process server should have completed a Return of Service form stating when your spouse was served. The Return of Service form must be on file with the court for at least 10 days before you can finish your case.
    • Important: When counting the 10-day waiting period, do not count the day the Return of Service is filed with the court, and do not count the day you go to court to finish your case.
  • 60-day waiting period—In almost all cases, you must wait at least 60 days before you can finish your divorce.
    • This “cooling off” period is a good time to try and reach an agreement with your spouse about the specifics of the pending divorce.
    • Temporary orders may be put into place during this time as well. These will stay in place until the final orders.
    • Many counties require parties to complete a parenting course and file a certificate of completion with the court before the divorce can be finalized.

In a contested case, courts may require parties to attend mediation before they allow a final hearing to be set.

There must be 45+ days’ notice given to the other party before a final hearing. You can set the hearing as soon as the 61st day after you filed your petition.

When counting the 60 days, find the day you filed your Original Petition for Divorce on a calendar, and then count out 60 more days (including weekends and holidays). If the 60th day falls on a weekend or holiday, go to the next business day. Note: When counting the 60-day waiting period, don’t count the day you filed your PetitionDay 1 is the next day.

There are only two exceptions to the 60-day waiting period.

  1. If your spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime involving family violence against you or a member of your household, the 60-day waiting period is waived.
  2. If you have an active protective order or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection against your spouse because of family violence during your marriage, the 60-day waiting period is waived.

Note: You can always wait longer than 60 days, but your divorce cannot be finished in fewer than 60 days unless one of these exceptions applies.

Courts use scheduling orders to keep your case moving toward a resolution or finalization. Scheduling orders may differ in every court but typically contain dates and deadlines for trials, hearings, motions, mediation, and other important parts of a divorce.

Certain waiting periods, requirements, and deadlines affect the scheduling orders, which will determine how long it takes for your family law case to move through the courts before it can be finished.

20+ day waiting period—From the day your spouse is served, your spouse must have at least 20 days plus the next Monday at 10 a.m. to file an Answer.

  • Find the day your spouse was served on a calendar, count out 20 more days, then go to the next Monday. This is the last day of your spouse’s answer period.
  • But, if your spouse files an answer any time before you finish your divorce it will still count. The 20+ day waiting period may or may not fall within the 60-day waiting period.

10+ day waiting period—The constable, sheriff, or private process server should have completed a Return of Service form stating when your spouse was served. The Return of Service form must be on file with the court for at least 10 days before you can finish your case.

  • Important: When counting the 10-day waiting period, do not count the day the Return of Service is filed with the court, and do not count the day you go to court to finish your case.

While your case is pending, temporary orders may be put into place at either party's request or on the court's own. These will stay in place until the final orders are made.

Many counties require parties to complete a parenting course and file a certificate of completion with the court before your case can be finalized.

In a contested case, courts may require parties to attend mediation before they allow a final hearing to be set.

There must be 45+ days’ notice given to the other party before a final contested hearing.

Before the end of your case, situations may come up where you want to speak to the court about an issue. Each court may have different procedures for setting a hearing. Call the clerk’s office to learn when and where the court hears your type of case (contested or uncontested). If you do not know what type of case you have, read Uncontested and Contested Cases: The Difference.

If you are setting a final hearing, read:


Source URL: https://texaslawhelp.org/checklist/important-court-and-case-information