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Update on COVID-19 and the Harris County Family Courts

In light of the current public health concerns related to COVID-19, each individual Harris County family court has issued their own policies and procedures to update attorneys and litigants regarding their active cases.

Should you have any questions we can help with, do not hesitate to contact us at 832-781-0320.

Below you will find the most current updates for Harris County.

As of June 9, 2020:

Jury Service

The Board of District Judges has extended the suspension of jury service in Harris County’s district courts and county courts through June 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have received a summons to a Justice of the Peace Court you will need to contact the court to see if your service is still required. Contact information for all the Justice of the Peace Courts can be found at http://jp.hctx.net/.

245th Judicial District Court

The 245th Judicial District Court has released court-specific updates to their policies and procedures, including that until further notice, there will be no in-person hearings in the 245th save and except for essential matters as defined in the Family Courts Joint Statement Regarding Health and Safety Concerns. However, the 245th court has clarified that even essential matters shall occur via Zoom only absent good cause and need for a physical hearing in the courthouse.


Beginning May 4, 2020, matters may be set for remote hearing by Zoom against the objection of the nonmovant pursuant to the Court's updated Policies and Procedures. An objection must be filed, served, noticed, and ruled upon by the Court to have the hearing abated until physical hearings in the courthouse are permissible. Issues relating to the current pandemic, such as lack of childcare for young children, that make a remote appearance unfeasible on a specific date, may constitute good cause to reset a hearing, but only if properly presented to the Court.
 

246th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 257th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures. Parties and attorneys may continue to utilize the submission docket for uncontested matters, which include prove-ups of agreements, as well as entries of final orders.

247th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 247th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures. Parties and attorneys may continue to utilize the submission docket for uncontested matters, which include prove-ups of agreements, as well as entries of final orders.

However, beginning on April 1st, 2020, the 247th court expanded upon their online scheduling options for hearings that may take place by videoconference. Until a county-wide solution has been implemented, the 247th plans to use a free video conferencing service, such as www.zoom.com, in combination with a teleconference bridge.

257th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 257th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures.

280th Judicial District Court

The 280th Judicial District court has issued fairly comprehensive guidelines and procedures for appearances in that court, in light of the health and safety concerns posed by the COVID-19 virus. For the health and safety of all in court, the 280th court requests that all persons entering the Court must sit 6 feet apart and shall be dispersed through the Court room. Further, in the 280th no one shall be allowed within 6 feet of the: Judge’s bench, clerk’s desk, coordinator’s desk, court Reporter’s desk, and the Bailiff’s desk.

In taking a pro-active approach, the 280th has now request that all persons shall use hand sanitizer before asking to approach these areas and may be asked to put on disposable gloves. According to the guidelines published on the 280th court’s website, persons who appear sick may be asked additional questions and may be subject to further protective measures.

Non-Essential Matters will be heard on a case by case basis via Zoom and all Zoom procedures apply. In conjunction with the current safety orders by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Orders of the County Engineer, there are limitations on the number of people who wish to appear in Court. At this time, no more than the people are allowed in the courtroom and must be at least 6 feet apart from any other persons. In addition, all persons appearing in the 280th Court and surrounding areas shall wear a facial covering such as a mask, bandana, scarf. If a person refuses to wear a facial covering or comply with other safety measures that person will not be allowed entry into the Courtroom. In addition, the Court may require persons to wear disposable gloves if the Court deems necessary during the time the individual in the Court. The Court may also take other safety precautions as deemed necessary and appropriate to prevent the spread of the virus.

308th Judicial District Court

The 308th Judicial District Court has issued policies for remote proceedings, to be effective immediately through June 30, 2020, unless otherwise extended, all hearings (except for matters deemed essential by the Court) will be heard by Zoom or by submission. Trials may be heard by remote appearance, with an agreement of all parties. Virtual dockets will be available beginning on June 1, 2020 at 9:00 AM. You may schedule a non-essential matter (that will require no more than 5-10 mins of the Court’s time) to be considered during a virtual docket.

309th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 309th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures.

310 th Judicial District Court

The 310th Judicial District Court has selected to continue to follow the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on May 5, 2020 (“FAPP”). The 310th is still following the FAPP, even though this order expired on June 1, 2020.

311 th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 311th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures.

312 th Judicial District Court

Since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 312th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures.

507th Judicial District Court

Starting June 1, 2020 all dockets in the 507th Judicial District Court will be called by Zoom video conference. Beyond that announcement, since the expiration of the First Amended Policies and Procedures during COVID-19 signed by all the Harris County Family District Court Judges on June 1, 2020, the 507th Judicial District Court has not released any court-specific information regarding changes to policies and procedures.

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As the COVID-19 situation continues to change, we can expect the Harris County family courts will continue to adapt as well. Hunt Law Firm will continue to seek guidance from the courts and public health officials, and we will update you as new information becomes available.

If you have questions or concerns about a child custody, child support, or divorce matter in Harris County, our office remains open and will be accepting consultations. We are taking the recommended precautions, including disinfecting all common areas, tables, countertops after every meeting. In addition, hand sanitizer stations are located in each conference room and all common spaces.

If you are unable to come to the office, we can meet by telephone or videoconference (compatible with most smartphones, tablets, and computers). We can also conduct meetings, group conferences, and mediations 100% virtually.

This page is for informational purposes only. All updates are to the best of our knowledge. Updates are moving very quickly and the most recent update you see here could be out of date by the time you read it, or we update again. Please do not rely on our updates, but instead rely on information provided directly by the court and your attorney. The information above is not intended to be legal advice nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship where none exists.

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