In Texas, many clients do not know that they have the option to request a jury trial in a family law matter. Normally, many clients have a bench trial in front of the Judge who makes the determination on the outcome of the case. A jury trial takes some of the elements of the matter out of the hands of the Judge and places them into the hands of the jury. The choice of a jury trial vs. a bench trial is largely dependent on the client. Monetary concerns tend to be the biggest factor against having a jury trial. Clients who feel the Judge may have a bad impression of them can choose to have a jury trial in hopes that they will get a verdict returned in their favor. Two things clients need to understand is that the Texas Family Code determines what issues will be decided by a judge or a jury and that someone must request and pay for the jury trial.


Jury Issues

  • Child Related

The Texas Family Code, allows the jury to determine the conservatorship of the child. A conservator makes the decisions and cares for the child. The following is a list of what the jury may determine:

  • Who is appointed sole managing conservator, joint managing conservator, or possessory conservator
  • Who has the exclusive right to designate a child’s primary residence
  • If the child’s residence will be subject to a geographic restriction, and if so, the limits on the restriction
  • Termination of parental rights

 

  • Property Division

Property issues can go from mundane to complex. Texas, is a community property state where marital assets are normally divided equally. Issues may arise when property has been inherited or part of a business which may not be community property. Below is a list of some items that a jury may decide with regards to property:

  • If property is separate property or community property
  • The value of property
  • If a spouse is entitled to a reimbursement claim
  • Whether a premarital or postmarital agreement is valid and enforceable

 

  • Marriage

In Texas, a jury may decide the at-fault grounds for a divorce, if a marriage is void, and certain grounds for annulments of marriages. A jury can also hear issues regarding common law marriage. Below is a list of some issues a jury may decide with regards to marriage:

  • If the parties are common-law married also known as informal marriage
  • Which party is at fault in the divorce if there is a claim for fault
  • Annulment


Judge Issues

While a jury may decide certain issues with regards to children and divorce, there are several issues that only a judge may decide. The Texas Family Code determines which issues are exclusively under the power of a judge to decide. These include:

  • Child support
  • Division of community property
  • Spousal maintenance also known as alimony
  • Adoption of a child
  • Paternity Suit
  • Access and possession schedule
  • Enforcement of a prior court order
  • Parental rights and duties

 

The Brandy Austin Law Firm attorneys provide free 30-minute consultations for clients who have questions about family law. For more information, contact the Brandy Austin Law Firm at www.brandyaustinlaw.com, or by phone at (817) 841-9906 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

 

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