Texas Child Conservatorship Hearings: What to Expect

Hearings are brief opportunities for parties and their attorneys to present information so a judge can decide next steps.

Some cases over child conservatorship, possession and access may not have any hearings, while more complicated cases can have multiple.

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Types of hearings

The topic of your hearing determines how long the hearing lasts, what information you present, who speaks and more. Below, read about types of hearings common in child conservatorship, possession and access proceedings.

Temporary order hearings

If a parent has requested temporary orders, this hearing is when both sides explain to the judge what the orders should be and why. Temporary orders provide short-term solutions to parenting disputes that cannot wait until the end of legal proceedings to be addressed. Sometimes the hearing resembles a trial. Many counties give each side a set amount of time, ranging from 20 to 90 minutes, to make their arguments. If parents agree on temporary orders, these can be entered without a hearing.

Uncontested or default final hearings

Your case is considered uncontested if you and the other parent reach an agreement on all issues. It is considered default if the other parent never files a response to your suit, despite having been formally served with a copy of it. Hearings for both uncontested and default cases often last no more than five minutes. You present your closing documents to the judge, then answer questions or read testimony. If the judge considers your request to be in the best interest of your child, he or she signs your proposed final orders.

Other hearings

Attorneys regularly schedule hearings to ask the judge to rule on something. For example, if only one parent wants a custody evaluation, a hearing will be scheduled so the judge can decide whether to order it. If only one parent wants an amicus attorney appointed, a hearing will be scheduled. Countless other types of hearings are possible.

Preparing for your hearing

The impression you give at a hearing could affect your case years down the road. Be sure to prepare thoroughly with your attorney. If you're representing yourself, use all the resources at your disposal.

Well in advance, gather evidence that will support your argument. Focus specifically on the issues being addressed in the hearing, and follow the Texas Rules of Evidence.

Depending upon the reason for your hearing, you might present your requested parenting plan and schedule as exhibits so the judge understands what you believe is best for your kids. Bring enough copies for you, the other parent and the judge.

Hearing procedures

Hearings rarely begin at the scheduled time. Even if the hearing itself is brief, you may spend a significant part of your day waiting to be heard.

Hearings take place in a courtroom open to the public, unless all parties and the judge agree to limit attendance to people directly affected by the suit (which is very rare).

Parents are sworn in as witnesses before the judge asks them questions. If both are testifying, the parent who filed the suit (or their attorney) has the first opportunity to speak, followed by the other parent (or attorney).

Tips for hearings
  • Observe other hearings ahead of time, especially ones with your judge.
  • With an attorney or friend, practice answering questions you're likely to receive from the judge.
  • Dress like you're going to a job interview.
  • Do not bring children.
  • Arrive early so you can find your courtroom.
  • Keep your calendar open for the entire morning or afternoon.
  • Don't talk about the case when you're in or near the courthouse. You never know who might overhear.
  • Assume the judge is unfamiliar with the facts of your case; it’s better to tell the judge something he or she already knew than to skip over something he or she hasn’t heard yet.
  • Speak slowly, but don't ramble.
  • Look at your notes to help you gather your thoughts.
  • Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question, and admit when you don't know an answer.
  • Be honest. You are under oath.
  • Show respect to everyone. Refer to the judge as "Your Honor," and never interrupt anyone.
Using technology for your hearing

Since there are so many types of hearing, the evidence you need to prepare for them can be just as varied.

You may want to present a log of interactions with the other parent, a calendar showing when you care for your child, a list of child-related expenses and beyond.

The Custody X Change app lets you create and manage all of these elements in one place. It helps you prepare for whatever hearings come up in your case.

Take advantage of our technology to get what’s best for your children.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and possession schedules.

Make My Texas Plan Now

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and possession schedules.

Make My Plan