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Jury trials in Texas divorces

Dallas Divorce Attorneys Helping People Safeguard Their Rights

Typically, when a couple decides to end their marriage via divorce, they will strive to settle their disputes outside the courtroom. In some cases, however, parties are unable to agree on certain issues, and their cases ultimately proceed to trial. While people typically think that judges must resolve any contested issues in divorce trials, Texas law provides divorcing parties the right to pursue jury trials so that a panel of their peers can decide their case. Jury trials in Texas divorces have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and it is important for anyone contemplating seeking a trial in a divorce action to fully understand the potential ramifications of such a decision before proceeding. If you intend to seek a divorce or were served with divorce papers, you should talk to an attorney about your options. The skilled Dallas divorce lawyers of McClure Law Group regularly handle complicated divorce actions from inception through trial, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly in pursuit of a successful outcome.

Jury Trials in Texas Divorces

Under Texas law, parties involved in divorce actions have the right to a trial before a jury. Notably, both parties do not have to agree to a jury trial; instead, a case may be presented to a jury based on one party’s request.

Unlike bench trials, which are presided over solely by judges, jury trials involve presenting evidence to a panel of twelve residents of the county where the case was filed who collectively assess the case and render decisions. While bench trials are more common in divorce actions, there are benefits to jury trials. For example, jurors drawn from diverse backgrounds may provide varied perspectives that can offer a broader understanding of the case. Additionally, jurors may be more likely to consider emotional factors, in addition to legal issues, which may benefit one of the parties.

With jury trials in Texas divorces, there is a risk that the jurors may make decisions that do not align with the facts of the case or the prevailing law, however, as jurors may lack the ability to understand complicated legal issues. Additionally, juries cannot resolve certain issues, which in many cases means some disputes will have to be determined by a judge regardless of the presence of the jury. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a jury trial depends on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the preferences of the parties involved.

Matters that Can Be Resolved in Jury Trials in Texas Divorces

The Texas Family Code (the Code) delineates what issues can be resolved in jury trials in Texas divorces. Specifically, pursuant to the Code, a jury can determine certain matters related to child custody, including the appointment of conservators and the designation of the child's primary residence. They cannot, however, decide on the specific terms of possession or access to the child, which must be determined by a judge. Additionally, they cannot make determinations regarding child support.

The Code also permits jurors in Texas divorce actions to assess whether property is community or separate, as well as the value of any community assets. Juries cannot decide how any community property will be divided, though; the distribution of marital property must be determined by a judge. Additionally, a jury can assign fault for the breakdown of the marriage; however, juries cannot resolve issues related to the enforcement of prior orders issued in the case.

Speak with an Assertive Dallas Divorce Attorney

There are numerous benefits to trying a divorce action before a jury, but jury trials also present challenges that the parties must carefully consider before deciding to proceed. The assertive Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group dedicate their practice to helping people protect their interests in family-law proceedings, and if you engage our services, we will help you determine the best course of action under the facts of your case. Our main office is located in Dallas. We also have a Collin-County office, which is located in Plano, where we are available to meet clients by appointment. We regularly represent people in divorce cases in Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth, Rockwall, Irving, Richardson, Frisco, and McKinney. We also help parties with other family-law matters in cities in Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Tarrant, and Grayson. You can contact us by calling 214.692.8200 or by using our form online to arrange a conference.

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