Effect of Filing a SAPCR Suit in More than One Court in Texas

When filing for a SAPCR suit, knowing where to file it is quite important. It should be filed before the correct court so that the suit will be recognized and heard. Otherwise, the suit might be dismissed. A court must have jurisdiction to hear a case that a party has filed against another.

In Texas, jurisdictional requirements must be present before a case is heard. One of the parties of the case must have been a resident in Texas for the past six (6) months and a resident of the county where the case has been filed for a period ninety (90) days prior to filing. Absent these requirements, the court will not have jurisdiction over the case.

When the parties all live in different Texas counties there will be multiple jurisdictional claims over the case. What will happen then? This article will explain just that.

Simultaneous Jurisdiction will not take place over a family law case in different counties

If a case concerning the same child has been filmed simultaneously in two different counties, it would be inconvenient for one of the parties to travel back and forth to their county and the other parent’s county. In this case, the duty of the judges of the two counties is to enforce the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to help establish which court has actual jurisdiction over the case for better logistics of the case. This will also result in the overall better determination of the case.

Factors considered to avoid inconvenient forum

If the case is filed in different states, one of the parties has to bear inconvenience for at least one of traveling back and forth between their home and the out-of-state court for the case. This legal concept is called an “inconvenient forum”. There are a number of factors that a court considers to avoid granting to an inconvenient court the jurisdiction over the case such as:

  • Provision on the issue of jurisdiction regarding a SAPCR in the Final decree of divorce;
  • The familiarity of a court with the issues of the case;
  • Position of a court that can quickly resolve the issues of the case and promulgate a decision therefor;
  • Parties’ financial situation;
  • Presence of Domestic/Family Violence in the case; and
  • Residence of the child

Effect when a court in Texas refuses to take jurisdiction

If the court in Texas refuses to hear the case, the duties of that court over that case do not end there. It will still need to ensure the safety of the child involved in the case. It is meant to protect the child from the thing that threatens his or her safety. Until the court with the authority to take cognizance of the case adds it to their docket, the case stays. During this period, the court can also order one party to pay the other party a certain amount of fees for the litigation of the case such as attorney’s fees, travel expenses, witness fees, and child care costs.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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