Texas allows divorce and family law cases to bet set for a jury trial. Most clients don’t realize this is an option when they begin a family law case, but Texas does allow a jury to decide some issues in divorce and custody cases. If you are considering a jury trial you should talk to your lawyer about the advantages or disadvantages over a bench trial (having the judge decide the issues in your case.) Juries get to make binding decisions on some issues, but other issues are left to the judge to decide, even in a jury trial.
What issues can a jury decide in a Texas family law case?
- Grounds for divorce- If you plead for a fault divorce, a jury can decide if those grounds exist.
- Annulment/Void- A jury can decide if your marriage was actually annulled or void.
- Informal or Common Law Marriage- The jury can decide if a common law or informal marriage existed.
- The Character of Property- Was certain property community property or separate property? You can have a jury decide.
- Value of Property- The jury tells you what something is worth.
- Reimbursement- Does one party owe another money? Why?
- Fraud- Did one party commit fraud in the marriage?
- Enforceability of Property Agreement- Do you have a prenup or postnup?
- Conservatorship/Child Custody- This is one of the most important. Which parent will be primary? Will there a joint managing or sole managing conservatorship?
- Geographic Restriction- Will there be a limit to where the child can move?
- Modification of Conservatorship- Should a custody arrangement be changed from joint to sole managing conservatorship or vice versa?
- Termination of Parent-Child Relationship- This is most often a CPS issue, and CPS has by far the most termination jury trials in the state. This is when you lose all rights as a parent.
- Tort claims between a spouse- Assault etc.
- Property Divisions and Awarding Attorneys Fees- The jury can advise the court on these issues, but the judge gets to make the final decision.