COURT POLICIES FOR THE 254TH DISTRICT COURT

(Please read the Dallas Family Courts Local Rules in addition to these policies.)



Docket Call:
        No formal docket call (trials set at pre-trial or by coordinator)

Proveups:
        9:00 a.m. and continuing until first contested case is ready. Court will hear proveups at any other time the court is available or during trial breaks - check with clerk for availability. Also, see current rotating schedule for daily proveups.

Contempt:
        Mondays at 9:30 a.m.

Pre-trials:
        All requests for pre-trial hearings must be in writing delivered to the court or by e-mail to the Court Coordinator. The requesting party is responsible for notifying all other attorneys and pro se parties in writing in accordance with TRCP 21a. Every other Friday at 9:00 a.m. to noon - court will set specific time. Pre-trial may be waived by the Judge if short, non-complex issues involved.

Conferences:
       15 minute conferences set each morning (except pre- trial Fridays ) 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Appeals:
       15 minute conference setting (court will special set appeals for later date)

Judge Hears:
        Final trials (jury & non-jury); final custody modifications; contempts; appeals from AJ and IV-D; motions for new trial - except final hearings before AJ; M/continuance regarding final trials; summary judgments and other dispositive motions, bill of review, and any matter not referred to AJ.

AJ Hears:
        All temporary hearings; TRO's; all final modification hearings including child support and possession but not custody; writs of attachment and Habeas Corpus , all discovery disputes; and post judgement matters (except contempt).

Appeals:
        Court will enforce report of AJ/Master pending appeal unless a stay is granted . Court will schedule a 15 minute conference with attorneys prior to special setting for de novo hearing .

Child Support:
        All new child support orders shall be payable to the Texas Central Disbursement Unit. The court WILL NOT sign any child support order (including temporary orders) that is not accompanied by a wage withholding order (see TEX FAM CODE 154.001).

Contempt:
       No motion for contempt seeking punishment will be heard without a proposed contempt order and order of commitment.

Continuances:
       No continuance or pass of any matter will be granted without obtaining a new date from the clerk. No case will be withdrawn from the docket without the specific agreement of both sides communicated to the court prior to beginning of hearing /trial or the granting of a continuance by the court.


Final Order:

        Must be submitted within 30 days of trial or case will be dismissed.

Interviewing Children:
       The court discourages in chambers interviewing and prefers the child to be interviewed by a mental health professional or FCS and report filed. If the court interviews a child, it will be done only by appointment after all testimony is heard.

Mediation:
        Mediation is mandatory in all contested cases. The court may waive mediation if the trial is short with non-complex issues. Attorneys are REQUIRED to attend FCS mediation unless prior to mediation a TRCP Rule 11 agreement is filed waiving the right to rescind the MSA because the attorneys did not appear and/or sign it.

Name Change:
        Only granted upon live testimony or complete written affidavit of non-appearing party sufficient to satisfy TEX FAM CODE 45.10 3. (See court for form)

Parenting Classes:
        In all contested matters involving children (except child support) the parties must attend an approved divorce education course, including but not limited to Children in the Middle, Dallas OK, EXCAP, For Kids' Sake, or any other approved program. (Check with court if unsure)

Paternity Issue in Divorce:
       If appropriate pleadings are on file with an affidavit of status and sworn acknowledgment of paternity by biological father (see TEX FAM CODE 160.3 02- 303).

Prior SAPCR:
       Transfer of prior SAPCR into divorce is preferred procedure, but court will accept reference of prior matter in divorce decree with copy of prior order attached. Terms of prior SAPCR order cannot be modified by divorce decree. If prior SAPCR is an OAG matter, the OAG must approve decree.

Pro Se Divorces:
       Heard from any court if compatible with other court's policy. All Pro Se proveups currently held each Friday morning (check with clerk). All Pro Se final orders must be approved in advance - deliver proposed documents to court clerk.

Residency Restrictions:
        There is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) that unless the parties agree in writing filed with the court, that so long as the non-primary parent lives in Dallas County the residency of the children is restricted to Dallas County and contiguous counties.

Social Studies:
        Required in all contested custody and significant possession cases.

Stipulation Divorces:
       Yes, if no significant property, no children and waiver.

Trial Settings:
        Trial settings are obtained at the pre-trial hearing. A request for a pre-trial hearing raises a presumption that the requesting party will be ready for trial on the trial date. Pre-trials are scheduled every other Friday morning. In custody matters, social study and mediation must be complete before trial. In property matters, mediation must occur before trial and sworn inventories and proposed division must be filed before trial. There is no required form for inventories except in complex property matters a consolidate (spread sheet) inventory is required. Attorneys and pro se litigants shall appear with calendars and be prepared to discuss all issues. Failure to appear at pre-trial hearing could result in dismissal for want of prosecution or default judgment entered (see Dallas Family Court Local Rule 5.03).