Amended Hays County Standing Order for Cases Filed on or after October 1st, 2019 And Applies in Every Case, Whether A Party Requests It or Not
At the inception of a family law case, the Courts are immediately interested in taking steps to preserve the status quo and prohibit parties from taking certain actions that may cause harm to the parties’ estate, their children, or cause needless litigation and expense.
These Orders are known as “Temporary Restraining Orders” (“TRO”). The authority for TRO’s (Temporary Restraining Orders), are found in Chapter 6 and 105 of the Texas Family Code and you can see two detailed articles on the blogs portion of the website (click here to review these articles)
Because TRO’s historically were very routine at the inception of a case, attorneys in family law cases over time developed a set of “standard prohibitions” that were consistently presented to the Courts. And, because these by their nature were required to be presented “ex-parte” (i.e. without notice to the other spouse to be present), these requests consumed valuable court time for matters that were by and large very routine and standard.
As a result, the Courts in Hays County put into effect, but amended in 2019, the “Hays County Standing Orders”. These standing orders apply to all family law cases filed in Hays County effective immediately on an after October 1st, 2019.
Prior to the adoption of the Hays County Standing Orders, attorneys were required to spend time and their client’s money obtaining this basic relief by appearing in front of the judge, asking the court to approve a TRO.
However, instead, the Hays County County Standing Order now effectively substitutes for that process and serves as a “standing” injunctive order, applying in every divorce and custody case that is filed in Hays County, whether a party requests the standing order or not.
Very Important Difference with Hays County Standing Orders from Other Counties
It is important to note that the Hays County Standing Order applies in every child custody matter, whether an original suit or a modification suit because in some counties the standing orders specifically do not apply to modifications of existing child custody orders such as Hays County.
Hays County Standing Orders Explained
These standing orders control many aspects of the parties finances, children, and property upon filing a case for Divorce and/or Custody and it is very important, if not critical, for you to read and understand their terms and carefully review them with your attorney at the inception of your case. And, for the most part, these standing orders are self explanatory.
The first paragraph of the Hays County Standing Orders states as follows:
“No party to this lawsuit has requested this order. Rather, this order is a standing order of the Hays County District Courts that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent-child relationship filed in Hays County, Texas. [The courts] have adopted this order because the Courts have collectively determined that all parties involved in a divorce suit and all parties and children in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship should be uniformly afforded the protections set forth below while their suit is pending before the Court.”
Standing Order Takes Effect Immediately Upon filing
Upon filing, 7.1 requires that a copy of the Hays County Standing Order be attached to the original petition for divorce or custody suit, as applicable and takes effect immediately unless modified by the Court (or the parties by written agreement, signed, and filed with the Court).
Paragraph 7.2 of the Hays County Standing Order states as follows:
“It is ORDERED that this order is effective upon the filing of the original petition and shall remain in full force and effect as a temporary restraining order for fourteen days after the filing of the original petition. If, after service, no party contests this order by presenting evidence at a hearing on or before fourteen days after the date of service of the original petition, it is ORDERED that this order shall continue in full force and effect as a temporary injunction until further order of this court. This entire order will terminate and will no longer be effective once the court signs a final order.”
Accordingly, as is, the standing order automatically remains in effect while your case is pending before the court unless a party files a request with the court and presents evidence why the standing order should be modified in some respect.
Provided, however, upon your case being concluded or the entire case is dismissed, the standing orders are no longer effective.
Effect of A Protective Order on Standing Order, Protective Order Prevails
However, as you can see in section 8 of the standing orders, in the event the court has previously entered a protective order at the time of the filing of the divorce and/or the original custody suit and the terms of the protective in some way conflicts with the terms of the standing order, section 8 provides that the terms of the protective order prevail.
Thus, upon being served with an original petition for divorce or custody that is combined with a protective order, it is very important to consult an experienced family law attorney to understand the terms of the orders.
Parents Required to Take Parent Education and Stabilization Course for Cases with Minor Children in Hays County, Texas
A unique requirement set out in the Hays County Standing Orders, is that any case involving minor children — whether divorce or custody matter — Rule 10 requires that the parents attend an “approved parent education and stabilization program or parenting class”.
This comes from Texas Family Code section 105.009 where the court may, in an original custody suit or a custody suit seeking to modify a prior existing order, require the parents to attend a parent education and family stabilization course.
The law requires that the course be at least a minimum of four hours but may not be more than 12 hours and are designed to educate parents to “assist with the consequences of divorce on parents and children” and the court must include information on the following issues:
(1) the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
(2) the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;
(3) parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;
(4) stress indicators in young children and adolescents;
(5) conflict management;
(6) family stabilization through development of a coparenting relationship;
(7) the financial responsibilities of parenting;
(8) family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and
(9) the availability of community services and resources.
The Hays County Standing Orders requires that both parents complete the parenting class, obtain a certification of completion, and file that certification of completion with the Court within 60 days of the date of the filing of the original suit.
These courses generally costs around $40 and Two of the more common and popular courses which have been approved by Hays County Courts that meet the requirements of the Texas Family Code are and links to these courses are as follows:
Putting Kids First: https://puttingkidsfirst.org
Parenting Choice: https://www.parentingchoice.com/
There are exceptions to this requirement, however, and upon request the Court may waive this requirement of the parents to complete a parent education and family stabilization course but may only be granted by approval of the Court “for good cause shown”.
Otherwise, the Hays County Standing Orders are clear in that “failure to provide [proof of completion of the program filed with the court] may result in the cancellation of any scheduled hearing or trial and denial of requested relief at the Court’s discretion.”
Standing Order Sets Rules on Dealing with Spouse, Children, and Property
The standing order sets the rules with how spouses must deal with each other, their children, and their property. The standing order calls for the preservation of property, the preservation of business and personal records, and the continued maintenance of insurance coverage.
At heart, the idea is to essentially preserve the “status quo” of the parties and that of children and to provide the least amount of disruption possible, until the courts can hear the evidence, understand the circumstances of the parties and that of their children, and make a carefully determined decision based on the testimony of the parties and the circumstances.
The Hays County Standing Order contains primarily 7 sections, the most significant provisions of the standing order, are typically the following, meaning the parties are specifically prohibited from:
No Disruption of Children such as:
1.1. Removing the children from the State of Texas for the purpose of changing the child/ren’s domicile or residence, acting directly or or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or any order of this Court; provided, however this paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from removing the child/ren if an active prior court order gives that party the right to designate the child/ren’s primary residence outside the State of TExas or without regard to geographic location.
1.2 Disrupting or withdrawing the children from the school or day-care facility where the children are currently enrolled, without the written agreement of both parents or an order of this Court; provided however this paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from so withdrawing the child/ren from a school or day-care facility if that party is changing the child/ren’s domicile or residence with that party’s rights pursuant to an active prior court order as described in Section 1.1.
1.3 Hiding or secreting the children from the other party;
1.4 Changing the child/ren’s current place of abode without he written agreement of all parties or an order of the Court; provided however, this paragraph shall not shall not prohibit or restrict a party from changing such place of abode if an active prior court order gives that party the right to designate the child/ren’s primary residence without geographic limits established by that active prior court order.
Preservation of Property and Use of Funds During Divorce Case, the parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts:
3.1 Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly destroying, removing, concealing, encumbering, transferring or otherwise harming or reducing the value of the property of one or both of the parties with intent to obstruct the authority of the Court to order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the Court deems just and right … This prohibition applies regardless of whether property is claimed as separate or community property.
3.2 Intentionally misrepresenting or refusing to disclose to Petitioner or to the Court, on proper request, the existence, amount or location of any tangible or intellectual property of one or both parties, including electronically stored information. This prohibition applies regardless of whether property is claimed as separate or community property.
3.6 Incurring any indebtedness, including cash advances from a credit card or line of credit, other than legal expenses in connection with this suit, except as specifically authorized by this order or subsequent order of this Court.
3.7 Making withdrawals or transfers from any account in any financial institution for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.8 Spending any sum of cash in either party’s possession or subject to either party’s control for any purpose, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.9 Withdrawing or borrowing in any manner for any purpose from any retirement, profit-sharing, pension, death or other employee benefit plan or employee savings plan or from any individual retirement account or Keogh account, except as specifically authorized by this order;
3.11 Taking any action to terminate, close, restrict or limit lines of credit, credit cards, charge cards, or financial accounts in the name of or subject to the control of the other party …
3.14 Terminating or in any manner affecting the service of water, electricity, gas, telephone, cable television, or other contractual services such as security, pest control, landscaping, or yard maintenance at the other party’s residence …
Orders about Insurance in Divorce Cases
5.2 Changing or in any manner altering the beneficiary designation on any life insurance on the life of either party or the parties’ child/ren;
5.3 Canceling, altering, or in any manner affecting any casualty, automobile, or health insurance policies insuring the parties’ property of persons including the pirates’ minor child/ren.
Prohibitions in the Hays County Standing Orders Not Absolute
However, these prohibitions contained within the Hays County Standing Order are not absolute. This is a very common misunderstanding among parties who have just been served, believing they are absolutely prohibited from withdrawing funds or taking certain actions with their financial accounts, their children, or specifically in regard to their business or occupation.
If you are a party to a divorce matter, then you will need to go to section 6 of the Hays County Standing Order you will see a provision styled “Specific Authorizations In Divorce Case”.
In section 6, you will find the Court has authorized four specific exceptions within the standing order which the parties may, in a divorce matter, for which the parties may incur debt or spend marital funds:
6.1 To engage in acts reasonable and necessary to the conduct of that party’s usual business and occupation;
6.2 To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses in connection with this suit.
6.3 To make expenditures and incur indebtedness for reasonable and necessary living expenses for food, clothing, shelter, transportation and medical care.
6.4 To make withdrawals from accounts in financial institutions only for the purposes authorized by this order.
Carefully Consult an Attorney
Actions taken in violation of the Standing Orders are potentially subject to contempt and a party can be sanctioned, potentially sentenced to county jail, and minimally required to pay attorneys fees.
Thus, while many of these provisions are self explanatory, it is very important that you carefully review the standing order with your attorney, ask questions, and become informed.
If you have minor children and the Standing Order applies to your particular case and you are changing schools, childcare, or moving to a different residence while a case is pending you need to very carefully consult with your attorney as the Courts take these actions in particular, as they relate to children, very seriously.
Obtaining a Copy of the Hays County Standing Order
All the issues dealt with in the Standing Order are part of the general rules and procedures for Hays County.
Click here to download a complete copy of Hays County Standing Order, or contact our office.