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What is a summary judgment and how could one affect your Texas family law case?

A summary judgment allows for a court to dispose of a case where either the Petitioner (the party who filed the lawsuit) either does not have sufficient evidence to win the relief he or she is requesting or when a responding party lacks a proper and clear defense to the assertion(s) brought against him or her by the Petitioner.

Basically, if one party or the other doesn’t have a leg to stand on as far as their case’s arguments are concerned then the opposing party can file a motion for summary judgment in an attempt to dispose of the case.

If you are involved in a family lawcase and the opposing party is making assertions and arguments that are not backed by sufficient evidence then you can file a motion for summary judgment. If your case has multiple issues at stake it is possible to have a number of them decided via a motion for summary judgment prior to a trial.

This limits the areas that you have to present in trial. Likewise, if your case is instead heading to mediation you have an advantage due to your having removed certain issues from the negotiating table. If you are attempting to settle on a particular issue and you remove other avenues for your opposing party to argue about, then your chances of settling increase dramatically.

No evidence motion for summary judgment

There are two types of motions for summary judgment- traditional and no evidence. For the purposes of today’s blog post we will focus on no evidence motions for summary judgment. If you are motioning the court to grant your request for no evidence summary judgment, you are essentially stating to the judge that there is no evidence to support a claim or claims of your opposing party.

Since the burden of proof is on your opposing party to do so, you are merely pointing out that the party will be unable to meet the burden at trial and as a result the claim needs to be disposed of now rather than later.

Once the parties have had a chance to seek discovery responses from the opposing side, you can file a motion for summary judgment in the event that there is no evidence available to support a claim or defense that the other side is attempting to argue. You must go through the claim being asserted by the opposing party and state specifically where their evidence is either faulty or insufficient.

The beauty (from the perspective of the filing party) is that you do not have to present any evidence. One you file the motion for no evidence summary judgment the burden shifts to the opposing party to produce sufficient evidence to show the court that he or she should be allowed to continue to assert that particular claim.

If the party responding to the no evidence summary judgment motion either fails to adequately produce evidence or presents no evidence at all the summary judgment motion will be granted by the court.

What are the types of issues that often involve no evidence motions for summary judgment?

When it comes to family law cases, what type of subject matter are often at the heart of no evidence motions for summary judgment? Here are a number of examples:

  1. Reimbursement claims made in divorce cases where one side is asking for money from their spouse’s martial estate be paid to their martial estate
  2. Property issues in which characterization is being argued. This means whether or not a piece of property, retirement benefit or other entity is characterized as either community or separate property
  3. Whether or not a premarital agreement should be enforced by a trial court in conjunction with a divorce case

How to use a motion for no evidence summary judgment to your advantage

Basically any situation in a family law case in which your opponent has the burden of proof are good scenarios to consider filing no evidence motions for summary judgment, where appropriate.

An advantage to bringing such a motion early in your case is that you are able to win on any number of issues before trial- thereby reducing the subject matter to be tried.

This allows you to both focus on those specific areas and to prepare better for each.

Also, as previously stated, if you are still able to negotiate and potentially settle your case before trial, eliminating a number of issues sort of clears the landscape and allows both sides to wrap their arms around the elements that are still at issue.

Through a no evidence motion for summary judgment you are able to force your opponent to prove the merits of their claim or defense during the case itself rather than allowing him or her to posture and bloviate during the case. This can waste time, resources and decrease the possibility of a settlement.

In the event that you are not successful in having your motion for a no evidence summary judgment granted, it is rarely a bad move for you to try to do so from a strategic standpoint.

Learning more about the issues of your case early on in the process and forcing your opponent to corral evidence and defend themselves against your motion is good preparation for mediation and trial. Learning what your opponent will be arguing later on is never a bad thing.

Questions about family law case strategy? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Thank you for allowing our office the opportunity to share with you this article about no evidence summary judgment. Having a strategy and game-plan for your case is essential to achieving your goals. Attorneys and clients who work together and who are on the same page increase the odds further of attaining whatever goals the client has set forth.

If you have questions about your family law matter please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today. Our licensed family law attorneys value the relationships we share with clients and we will work tirelessly with you on your case. A free of charge consultation is just a phone call away where your questions can be answered.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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