A Texas appeals court recently decided a Texas family law case involving a court’s jurisdiction to issue a protective order while a divorce proceeding is pending before another court. In that case, the wife filed a petition for divorce from the husband. The following year, while the divorce petition was pending, the wife filed an application for a protective order. The court issued a final protective order in favor of the wife, and the husband appealed the order. The husband argued in part that the protective order was void because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The husband argued that because a divorce proceeding was pending in a different court, the court could not issue a protective order.
Subject-matter jurisdiction refers to a court’s ability to hear and determine a certain type of case. Some courts only have subject-matter jurisdiction over certain types of cases, such as traffic courts and juvenile courts.
In this case, the wife filed the application for a protective order in the 280th District Court, which is designated as the domestic violence district court for Harris County, and which gives preference for domestic violence cases. The wife resided in Harris County, which is why she filed in that county. However, the husband argued that the application for a protective order must be filed in the court in which the divorce proceeding is pending, according to Texas’s Family Code.