Amended Dallas County Standing Order

Many courts have adopted "standing orders." These order incorporated the injunctions regarding divorces and suits affecting the parent child relationship in the Texas Family Code. The Dallas County Family District Courts amended their standing order effective April 1, 2013. The amended Standing Orders are: 

AMENDED DALLAS COUNTY FAMILY DISTRICT COURTS

GENERAL ORDER

(Revised April 1, 2013)

DALLAS COUNTY STANDING ORDER REGARDING CHILDREN, PETS, PROPERTY AND CONDUCT OF THE PARTIES

No party to this lawsuit has requested this order. Rather, this order is a standing order of the Dallas County District Courts that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent–child relationship filed in Dallas County. The District Courts of Dallas County giving preference to family law matters have adopted this order because the parties, their children and the family pets should be protected and their property preserved while the lawsuit is pending before the court.
Therefore, it is ORDERED:

1. NO DISRUPTION OF CHILDREN. Both parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts concerning any children who are subjects of this case:
1.1 Removing the children from the State of Texas, acting directly or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or an order of this Court.
1.2 Disrupting or withdrawing the children from the school or day–care facility where the children are presently enrolled, without the written agreement of both parents or an order of this Court.
1.3 Hiding or secreting the children from the other parent or changing the children's current place of abode, without the written agreement of both parents or an order of this Court.
1.4 Disturbing the peace of the children.
1.5 Making disparaging remarks regarding the other party in the presence or within the hearing of the children.

2. PROTECTION OF FAMILY PETS OR COMPANION ANIMALS. Both parties are ORDERED to refrain from harming, threatening, interfering with the care, custody, or control of a pet or companion animal, that is possessed by a person protected by this order or by a member of the family or household of a person protected by this order.

3. CONDUCT OF THE PARTIES DURING THE CASE. Both parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts:
3.1 Using vulgar, profane, obscene, or indecent language, or a coarse or offensive manner to communicate with the other party, whether in person, by telephone, or in writing.
3.2 Threatening the other party in person, by telephone, or in writing to take unlawful action against any person.
3.3 Placing one or more telephone calls, at an unreasonable hour, in an offensive or repetitious manner, without a legitimate purpose of communication, or anonymously.
3.4 intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to the other party or to a child of either party.
3.5 Threatening the other party or a child of either party with imminent bodily injury.

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Changing Custody Under Temporary Orders

Texas Family Code § 156.006 sets forth the circumstances under which a trial court may temporarily change custody of a child while a motion to modify is pending.  One of the circumstances exists when "the order is necessary because the child's present circumstances would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development."  On this finding the trial court may "render a temporary order that has the effect of changing the designation of the person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child."

So when does a temporary order have the "effect" of changing custody of a child?  The San Antonio Court of Appeals considered this issue in In re: Sanchez, 2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 2603 (Tex. App. - San Antonio Apr. 4, 2007, orig. proceeding). 

In Sanchez, the mother and father lived in San Antonio, as did the mother's parents.  The mother left the child with her parents during the week while she attended vocational school in Houston.  The mother was arrested following an unspecified "altercation."  The father moved the trial court for temporary orders granting him custody of the child.  The trial court ordered that the child stay with the father during the week in San Antonio rather than with the mother's parents.

In the court of appeals, the father argued that the trial court's order did not have the "effect" of changing custody.  The court of appeals disagreed, noting that under the prior order, the mother had greater possession and access to the child than the father and the unrestricted right "to establish the child's primary residence anywhere."  In summary, the court of appeals identified three factors underlying its decision:
  • A substantial reduction in the mother's overall possession time;
  • Restrictions placed on the mother's possession rights; and
  • The indefinite duration of the temporary orders.
Together, these facts operated to deprive the mother "of any discretion inherent in her right to designate [the child's] principal residence."