309th Divorce Court Houston Texas is staffed with Judge Sherri Dean who is the presiding Judge with Judge Beverly Malazzo acting as her associate. The courts website may be found at here. You can check on your case at the district clerks website located at district clerk. This court is located at 201 Caroline Houston 16th floor, Texas, 77002 as of June 2, 2014.
Uncontested dockets start at 8:30 am with contested docket at 9 am. During the primaries election in 2010 then associate Judge Mecca Walker ran to be judge of this court. Judge Dean was a practicing attorney. Judge Walker was the favorite, Judge Dean drew twice the number of votes over all other candidates. She is considered far right and a tea party judge. She suffers little tolerance for foolishness. She is a hardliner. It may seem hard to get your Judge time in this court. This is because she is never short with the parties. She always gives everyone their time, but you must wait your turn. As there is so much family law conflict in Harris county, sometimes it take a good while to see Judge Dean. Cases are brought to trial within 8 months. Mediation is required before a final trial. This rule is many times not enforced in a bench trial. No meditation is required before a temporary orders hearing. Pretrial hearing is required before final trials. Exhibits and witness list must exchanged on this date. Regarding the matter of the mediation prior to temporary orders, the Courts foresees the fact that both parties must be present in person unless they have met an agreement. After the first setting or hearing, the Court will determine the conditions for mediation prior to temporary orders. The mediation prior to the final trial is required, according to the local rules, but may not be enforced. The Court requires that both parties, together with the attorneys, should attend mediation sessions. Otherwise, the Court will consider it as being failure to attend at trial, and there is a chance that the attorney’s fees to be assessed for the non-compliant part.
The parenting classes are required in compliance with the local rules. Online classes are accepted by the Court. If you do not take the class, it is not likely to cause you any problems if you have an agreement, if your case is contested, you should take the class. For name changes, there is the need for a Driver’s License or any other form of identification, a complete criminal background verification, and a birth certificate if the case includes a child.
In the case of pre-trials, the requirements per scheduling orders and reset orders, or reset orders alone, must be completed. This includes the exchange of exhibits as well. A very crucial aspects is that if the pre-trial conference checklist is completed and signed by either the attorneys or record or Pro Se parties, having all the prerequisite met and turned in, it will not be required the presence at the pre-trial conference setting. Otherwise, the Attorneys and Pro Se Parties must be present and make an approach to pre-trial issues. This will also happen in the case of a motion for a continuance request, even if the motion agrees. Any vacation letters, if they are filed in a timely manner and compliance with the Harris County Attorney vacation rules, will be accepted.
The issuance of scheduling orders is released in a period between 75 and 90 days, from the time the initial petition is filled. The notice for trial will not be lesser than 60 days. A dismissal without prejudice (DWOP) will result if any of the parties, the petitioner or movant, do not appear at the trial, taking into consideration that both sides were properly announced about the trial. The cases set for trial with no service and no appearance will be dismissed.
There isn’t an explicit policy for the use of parental coordinator and facilitators. The Court will determine, after notice and hearing if there is a need for a parental coordinator. For children preferences and interviews, the Court will conduct the meeting in chambers, after notice and hearing. All conferences must be scheduled after school hours. The children are not supposed to be brought to the Court without an approval from the Court.
Preferential setting are seldom accepted. But if the facts and circumstances require them, the Court will take these into consideration. The reset procedures for trial settings or hearings must be made according to the following. The clerk may reset the hearing requested by one of the parties. In the case of multiple parties have a hearing set for the same date and time, they must agree on reset date. The motions of continuance, regarding trial settings, must be subjected to a hearing where valid reasons will be specified to motivate the need for continuance. Even if a continuance is granted, there is still the need to attach to it the new pre-trial and trial date. The vacation letters of attorneys, which are the JIMS System, will be honored, without the need for a hearing or motion for continuance. Also, the motions for continuance must be filed on or even before the pre-trial conference. On very rare occasions the continuance can be granted on the trial day, when appearance is necessary.
The improved pre-trial conference checklist will allow the possibility of not appearing at the pre-trial conference, only in the case when the checklist is completed, all the prerequisites are met, and both attorneys sign it. It is for the cooperation and preparation for trial before the event takes place. The Court will appoint Amicus only in cases with exceptions. A temporary hearing will be needed before the Amicus will be nominated. If, after the hearing, the Courts decides that an Amicus is needed, then the case may be recessed to allow the amicus to due their due diligence.
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce and family law attorney who practices in Harris County Texas and the counties that surround Harris County. He has been in practice for over 14 years and has tried over 300 cases. Mike, frequently appears in the 309th court at least once a week,. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of this Houston Texas Divorce Court 309th Harris County. Our office is open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks. Please call with your family law or divorce questions.
Michael Busby Jr.
2909 Hillcroft Suite 350
Houston, Texas 77057
Visit me on the web at www.busby-lee.com