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Jury Trials in Custody Cases

Dallas Family-Law Attorneys Helping People Navigate Custody Issues

Co-parents do not always agree as to what constitutes an appropriate division of their rights and obligations. As such, in many instances, they will take legal action to define custody rights. While judges decide custody issues in many cases, Texas affords people the right to jury trials in custody cases. There are benefits and risks to trying a custody case before a jury, and people considering seeking a jury trial in a custody matter should speak to an attorney to fully comprehend the potential effects of taking such a course of action. The assertive Dallas child custody attorneys of McClure Law Group have extensive experience trying custody cases before judges and juries, and if you are involved in a custody dispute, we can help you determine the best manner to proceed.

The Right to Jury Trials in Custody Cases

Texas differs from other states in that it allows parties to demand jury trials in custody cases. Pursuant to the Texas Family Code (the “Code”), any party involved in a custody case can request a jury trial. Juries can only decide certain matters in custody cases, however. Specifically, juries can issue verdicts appointing sole or joint managing conservators and possessory conservators. If they appoint joint managing conservators, they can determine which conservator has the sole right to designate the child’s primary residence. They can also decide whether to impose a geographic limitation on the area in which the residence must be located and, if so, can determine the area. Notably, a jury verdict in a custody case does not need to be unanimous to be valid; instead, only 10 out of a 12-member jury panel or five out of a six-member jury panel must agree.

Juries in custody cases cannot determine child-support issues, the exact terms or conditions of a party’s right to access or possession of a child, or any other right or duty of a conservator, outside of the right to designate a child’s primary residence. The Code also prohibits parties from seeking jury trials in paternity and adoption suits.

Although parties have the right to demand jury trials in custody matters, most cases are ultimately decided by a judge. Additionally, even if a jury determines conservatorship, the remaining matters, like child support, possession periods, and the terms of conservatorship, will usually be determined by a judge. Parties often seek jury trials if they believe that jurors will view their case more sympathetically than a judge, but it can be challenging to accurately predict how jurors will assess the evidence presented at trial.

Evidence in Jury Trials in Custody Cases

During a jury trial in a custody case, both parties will typically present evidence in support of their positions. Such evidence may include testimony from witnesses. For example, they may testify and ask people with personal knowledge about the facts of the case, like friends and family members, to testify, as well. In some instances, they may hire expert witnesses, like psychologists and child-custody evaluators, to offer professional opinions on disputed issues. They may also offer exhibits that support their position in the case, such as photographs, reports, medical records, and video and audio recordings.

Talk to a Dedicated Dallas Attorney

While parents generally want what is best for their children, they do not always agree regarding what that means, and in some cases, they require legal assistance to determine custody rights. If you have questions about your rights with regard to custody of your child, it is advisable to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The dedicated Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group possess the skills and resources needed to achieve good outcomes in custody cases, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our main office is in Dallas, and we can meet clients for consultation at our Collin-County office in Plano. We frequently represent parties in custody cases in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, McKinney, Frisco, Richardson, Irving, and Garland. We also help people with family-law matters in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Tarrant, Denton, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 214.692.8200 to set up a confidential meeting.

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