Harris County, Texas Family Law Court – 257TH Judicial District Local Rules

Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules

Understanding the local rules and procedures of the Family Law Court is essential for anyone involved in legal family matters within the Harris County 257TH Judicial District. This article provides a comprehensive overview of these rules, illuminating aspects from mediation requirements to courtroom conduct. It delves into practical tips for effective representation and advocacy within the specific jurisdiction, addressing nuances such as filing deadlines, document formatting, and courtroom etiquette.

By offering insights into both the legal framework and practical considerations, this resource empowers individuals involved in family law matters within the Harris County 257TH Judicial District, ensuring they navigate the complexities of the legal system with confidence and competence.

As a Houston, Texas divorce and family law attorney I have had the opportunity to help service members through divorce and family law cases. In order to do this, it is important to not only be aware of Texas Family Law but also familiar with the local rules of the court each family law court in Harris County, Texas.

Local Rules

Parties and attorneys must follow Texas’ statewide rules of court. Additionally, Judges of each court can adopt procedural regulations, which parties and their lawyers must mandatorily follow in matters within those Courts’ jurisdiction. Violating or ignoring these rules endangers the client and his or her counsel.

One good place to look at to start getting familiar with Local Rules is the District Clerks website.https://www.justex.net/LOCALRULES/LOCALRULES.ASPX

In order to assist my client’s and the residents of Harris County I decided to work on a series of blogs that would discuss the local rules of the different family law courts in Harris County.

Thus far I have written blogs on the:

  1. The 246TH Judicial District Court and the
  2. The 247TH Judicial Court

This will be my 3rd blog on this topic.

257TH Judicial District Court – Phone: 713-274-4560

  • The Presiding Judge: Judy Warne
  • The Associate Judge: Deborah Patterson
  • Address: 201 Caroline, 16th Floor, Houston, TX 77002

Some of the following rules can be found on the 257TH Judicial District Courts website located at https://www.justex.net/Courts/FAMILY/FAMILYCourt.aspx?crt=54

257TH Judicial District Docket Call

Docket Type



Uncontested Docket

8:00 a.m.– 9:30 a.m.


General Docket

9:00 a.m.

Monday – Friday

Trial Docket

9:30 a.m.


Order Entries

9:00 a.m


CPS Docket

8:00 a.m.


Enforcement Docket

9:00 a.m.


Discovery Dispute

1:00 p.m.

Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the calendar

Mediation as a Cornerstone

Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules

In Harris County, mediation is emphasized as a crucial step before courtroom proceedings. It’s mandatory prior to temporary orders in custody-related cases, and similarly required before the final trial in all cases. The idea is to encourage amicable dispute resolution. The court allows parties to select their mediator, or appoints one if an agreement cannot be reached.

Special Considerations in Family Law

The court actively orders social studies in specific scenarios such as adoptions or complex custody disputes. In family law, the court also handles name changes on the ancillary docket, requiring birth certificates for verification.

Under local rule 12.1, the court mandates parenting courses, though it’s worth noting that enforcement of this rule isn’t always strict. The court coordinator sets pre-trial procedures, primarily focusing on uncontested cases and jury trials. Approximately three months after filing, the court issues scheduling orders, typically setting hearings for about nine months from the filing date.

Court Protocols and Compliance

Dismissals Without Prejudice (DWOP) are a critical aspect, with the court sending out notices for a DWOP docket set for early morning. Non-compliance with certain protocols, like failure to file an inventory, restricts a party’s ability to testify or present evidence. The court takes a firm stance on such matters, emphasizing the importance of adhering to procedural rules.

The court has specific guidelines for child interviews in cases involving children’s preferences. It’s essential to file a motion and notify the other side, and children should not be brought to court unless explicitly ordered. The court’s approach is cautious, prioritizing the welfare of children involved in legal disputes.

257TH Judicial District Family Law Court Trial and Courtroom Procedures

To secure preferential settings, parties should file a motion, or the court might decide to do so independently. Parties should file motions for continuance well before the final trial, following the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The court mandates oral hearings for certain motions and does not typically hold submission dockets.

The court generally disfavors telephone conferences, only allowing them in exceptional situations. In complex cases, parties must provide courtesy copies of documents. The court enforces strict procedural compliance, particularly concerning the filing of inventories and adherence to scheduling orders.

Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules

Attorney fees are awarded based on merit and legal stipulations, and interim attorney fees may be granted in divorce or modification cases. The court also outlines specific procedures for cases set before an associate judge, reflecting the nuanced nature of family law proceedings.

257TH Judicial District Family Law Courtroom Etiquette

The court emphasizes proper courtroom etiquette, which includes standing when addressing the court, asking permission to approach witnesses, and maintaining a respectful demeanor towards opposing counsel. While beverages are permitted at the counsel table, food is prohibited in the courtroom.

This guide equips individuals and legal professionals with a deeper understanding of the local rules of the 257TH Judicial District Family Law Court in Harris County, Texas. Adherence to these regulations can profoundly impact the outcome of family law cases.


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