Texas Court Records
Where To Find Family Court Records In Texas?
Family law matters in Texas are generally handled by the district courts and sometimes by county courts. Divorce, paternity, and child support cases are the major court disputes under family law. Child support cases are also handled by Child Support Courts, a designated court administered by the Office of Court Administration. This Office of Court Administration also oversees the specialty child protection courts which conduct cases of child abuse and neglect.
As such, to find family law court records, the requestor would need to know the relevant court that handled the case. Generally, Ohio court records are maintained by the district court clerks. Depending on the county, the requestor may also be able to find these records online.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What Is Family Law In Texas?
The Texas Family Code has five sections covering various aspects of family life in the state. Matters of marriage relationships are found under the first section which describes
- The conduct of a marriage to ensure validity
- The process of marriage dissolution
- The property rights and liabilities present in a marriage
Title 2 of the Family Code focuses on the child in relation to the family. It states the limitations of minorities, pointing out situations that require parental consent. The Title also covers matters of parental liability and the procedure for getting a change of name. The third Title is the Juvenile Justice Code. The Code dictates the system of juvenile court proceedings.
Title 4 is for protective orders and family violence. It provides the persons that are entitled to apply for a protective order, as well as the application process. The Title encourages reporting of suspected family violence. It also stipulates the procedure a medical professional should take in cases of injuries suspected to be caused by family violence.
The final Title is headed, “The parent-child relationship and the suits affecting the parent-child relationship.” It includes the rights and duties in a parent-child relationship, as well as the process of terminating that relationship. It also contains the procedure for adoption, the means of child protection, etc.
WHAT ARE FAMILY COURT CASES AND RECORDS IN TEXAS?
Family court records in the State of Texas divides into 15 case-type categories:
- Divorce—Children: These are dissolution of marriage suits where the parties have a child or children below the age of 17.
- Divorce—No Children: These are divorce or annulment cases that have nothing to do with the parent-child relationship.
- Parent-child—No Divorce: These are lawsuits involving issues of child custody, support, visitation, or paternity. This category of cases does not involve a current or previous marriage dissolution case.
- Protective Orders—No Divorce: These are cases brought before a court, seeking an order to limit or eliminate contact between two or more family members or persons involved in a dating relationship.
- Title IV-D—Paternity: These are suits filed by the Office of Attorney General requesting a determination of parentage and the placing of a child support obligation. This category of cases may also entail custody and visitation issues.
- Title IV-D—Support Order: Cases filed by the Office of Attorney General petitioning the setting of a child support obligation where the parentage of the child has been ascertained. The ascertainment could be by an Acknowledgement of Paternity or if the child was born during the marriage. These cases may also involve visitation and custody issues.
- Title IV-D—UIFSA: These are cases also filed by the Office of the Attorney General applying to establish a Texas child support order. The issue of paternity may also be addressed. These cases are differentiated by the fact that not all parties reside in Texas. Matters of custody and visitation are generally not involved.
- Post-Judgment Modification—Custody: These are Post-judgment cases or motions requesting for the modification of an order that provides for the custody of, possession of, or determination of residence of a child.
- Post-judgment Modification—Other: These include Post-judgment suits or motions seeking modification of orders not relating to the custody of a child.
- Post-judgment Enforcement: Post-judgment suits or motions seeking the enforcement of a final order.
- Post-judgment Title IV-D: These include suits or motions filed by the Office of the Attorney General, to enforce or alter a child support obligation.
- Child Protective Services
- Termination of Parental Rights: Cases petitioning the court to terminate the legal relationship of parent and child.
- Adoption: These include cases applying for the establishment of a new, permanent relationship of parent and child between individuals not having that relationship naturally. It also includes gestation agreements.
- All Other Family Cases: These include all other cases filed under the Family Code, including removal of disability of minority, change of name, etc.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
ARE FAMILY COURT CASES PUBLIC RECORDS IN TEXAS?
Family court records, including divorce records and custody case records in Texas, are judicial records. As such, these records are available to the public for inspection and copying following Rule 12.4 of the Rules of Judicial Administration. To restrict public access to the records, the parties can apply to the relevant court to have it sealed.
HOW DO I FIND FAMILY COURT RECORDS IN TEXAS?
Persons interested in finding family court records in Texas may visit the District Court, where the matter was held to view or copy such case information. As such, the procedure to obtain such records vary from county to county. In Denty County, requesters can obtain copies of family court records by submitting a request form to firstname.lastname@example.org. To get the records in person, the requester can visit the Denton County Courts Building at
1450 E. McKinney
Denton, TX 76209
In Dallas, the easiest way to get copies or certified copies of family court records is to request them by email using the request form to DCRecords@dallascounty.org. The requester can also inspect or obtain family court records in person at the Civil and Family Records Desk at
George Allen Courts Building
600 Commerce Street
Basement “B” Floor West
Dallas, TX 75202
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, juvenile records, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
HOW DO I FIND FAMILY COURT RECORDS ONLINE?
There is no general website that grants access to family court records in Texas. The different counties have provisions that either allow or restrict access to family court records. For instance, Dallas County restricts online access to family court records. Only current family records are accessible online to attorneys using eFile Texas credentials. The access is through the Texas Office of Court Administration’s record portal.
Other counties, like Harris County, and Galveston County, grant online public access to family court records. To access Harris County family court records, the requester must register an account on the website. For Galveston County, though, any member of the public can search for a family court record by the case number, name of a party in the case, the attorney’s name, or the date the lawsuit was filed.
WHAT IS TEXAS CUSTODY LAW?
Section 5 of the Texas Family Code encompasses the laws relating to child custody. The law refers to child custody as a conservatorship. By Texas Family Code § 153.002, the primary consideration in determining conservatorship is the best interest of the child. To determine what is the best interest of a child, the factors to be considered as set by Texas Family Code § 263.307 and include:
- The age of the child, as well as, the child’s mental and physical vulnerabilities;
- The history of assaultive or abusive behavior by the child’s family or others with access to home
- The history of substance abuse by the family of the child or by anyone with access to the home
- The frequency, magnitude, and circumstances of the harm to the child
- Whether the child is afraid of living in or returning to the child’s home
In Texas, there are two types of conservatorship: managing and possessory conservatorship. Managing conservatorship is further divided into joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. As seen in Texas Family Code § 153.001, Texas law is inclined towards joint managing conservatorship, unless a party proves that it would not be in the best interest of the child.
According to Texas Family Code § 101.016, joint managing conservatorship is the sharing of the rights and duties of a parent by two parties, usually the parents. This definition will still apply in cases where the court awards one party exclusive rights to make certain decisions. Where these rights and duties are not shared but are placed only on one party, it is referred to as sole managing conservatorship.
Where the court makes one of the parents a sole managing conservator, the other parent is usually the possessory conservator. The possessory conservator has access or possession (visitation) rights. This means that the sole custodian cannot legally keep the child away from the other parent, except the court decides otherwise.
Custody cases are generally open to the public unless the judge and the parents agree otherwise. If this happens, the attendance in the court is limited to people directly affected by the case.
HOW TO FIND FAMILY COURT LAWYERS IN TEXAS?
The State Bar of Texas has a search tool on its website for users to find family court lawyers in practicing in the state. The search tool offers various filters to narrow down a query. These filters include location, education and certifications, fee options offered, and contact information. Ensure to pick the appropriate reason for needing a lawyer from the dropdown menu before searching. Also, include the appropriate options to find the right family court lawyer.
Also, there are various family legal aid and pro bono services in Texas. Any indigent Texans in need of family lawyers can reach out to any of these legal aid services for assistance.