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How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinions on A Parent’s Right to Jury Trial

You are in the midst of a contested custody proceeding, whether it is with your present spouse or another relative to the child. You are concerned with allowing the judge to decide who your child should live with. You don’t think it would be the best for your child. So, you contact your attorney at Guest & Gray in Kaufman County who informs you of your options. If you don’t want the Court to decide, there’s always the option of a jury of your peers.

A parent is entitled to a jury trial on this issue of conservatorship and the jury’s verdict can’t be changed by the court. And, the 1st District Houston Court of Appeals in In Re Kathleen Elizabeth Reiter held that when a parent requests a jury trial, a court must grant the jury trial and this can’t be bypassed by the other party. Therefore, if you request a jury trial but aren’t granted one, your attorney will gladly bring this case to the court’s attention.

Additionally, the Austin Court of Appeals supported this right to jury trial in Winters v. Winters. There, the Court held that even where a parent had committed an act of family violence against the other parent, while this may mean that you can argue that the parent can’t be appointed joint managing conservator, that doesn’t mean that if they request a jury trial, they’re not entitled to one. Therefore, just because a parent committed an act of family violence, that doesn’t prevent them from seeking a jury trial on the issue of conservatorship.

Thus, it is important that you are aware of all of your rights in a custody suit. As well, it’s important to know the strength and meaning of those rights.

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