Standing Orders – What Are They and How Do They Apply?

When a family law case is filed in certain counties in Texas, there are orders of the court that immediately apply to the parties and govern their behavior during the case. These orders, called “Standing Orders”, are typically for the protection of the parties and their children along with the preservation of the property of the parties. The standing orders are typically agreed and signed by all of the District Judges in a particular county who hear family law cases.

In Denton County, the standing orders begin with rules for no disruption of the children subject to the litigation. So, for example, the parties cannot change the children’s residence without agreement or court approval, disrupt the children, hide or secret them, or make disparaging remarks to them about the other party. Also, in an original divorce case, neither party can have a person they are in a romantic or dating relationship with overnight with the children. The court is mainly trying to protect the children from changes in their routine or from involvement in the litigation with these rules.

The next set of standing orders involves the conduct of the parties. Parties are prohibited from using vulgar or profane language when communicating with the other party, whether in person, by telephone, or in writing. They are also prohibited from threatening the other party or making harassing phone calls repeatedly or at an unreasonable hour. These are pretty obvious in that they tell parties to behave themselves even though they may greatly dislike one another when a case is first filed.

After these sets of orders come the rules designed for the preservation of the parties’ property. These orders prevent the parties from destroying, selling, or mortgaging property, incurring debt, withdrawing money, restricting lines of credit, or terminating utilities. They also prevent a party from excluding the other party from use of the marital residence if the other party resided there within 30 days of the filing of a divorce. Parties to a case may try and take these types of actions to protect themselves and their property, but the court does not want a party to completely cut off the other party from the community estate just because a divorce has been filed.

The parties are authorized to do that which is necessary to conduct their usual business and occupation, to spend funds for attorney’s fees, and for reasonable and necessary living expenses. Further, the parties are ordered to complete a parenting class if children are involved in the case.

Your attorney or their paralegal should go over the standing orders with you step by step to advise you of your rights when a divorce or other family law case is filed. They will put you on notice of your duties and limitations when it comes to behavior that is supposed to occur and not to occur when a case is filed. In addition, they can direct the parties’ behavior towards one another and their children before a hearing can be held in front of the judge in your particular court.

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