What is a Standing Order?
What you don’t know can hurt you. If you have a family law case in Texas, or are considering one, you need to know about standing orders.
What is a Standing Order?
A standing order is a court order that automatically applies in divorce cases and suits affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCRs) including cases where child custody (conservatorship), visitation (possession), and/or child support is at issue.
A standing order contains rules that parties in family law cases must follow while their case is pending.
What is the Purpose of a Standing Order?
The purpose of a standing order is to protect and preserve the parties, children, and property - to keep the status quo - until the parties make agreements or a judge makes decisions.
What are Common Provisions of a Standing Order?
Standing orders can both 1) prohibit parties from engaging in certain conduct and 2) require parties to take affirmative action.
Commonly, parties are prohibited from:
harassing or being abusive to each other
talking negatively about the other parent to the children and talking to the children about the lawsuit
changing the children’s residence or school
taking the children out of Texas
keeping the children away from the other parent
selling, destroying, or hiding property
canceling or changing insurance, utilities, and/or credit cards
spending money except as set out in the standing order
Examples of affirmative actions parties may be required to take include completing a parenting class and/or submitting financial information to the court and the other party by a certain deadline.
Also note that the standing order is required to be attached to the petition initiating the suit.
Does a Standing Order Apply in My Case? Where do I Find It?
Many, but not all, counties in Texas have adopted standing orders. To find out whether there is a standing order in your county, and to view and download it, check your county website and/or the website of the district clerk for your county. If you cannot find a standing order on the websites or are unsure if you have the correct document, you can also call the district clerk for your county.
View and download the Bexar County Standing Order.
Can I be Excused from Following the Standing Order?
If one or more provisions of the standing order don’t work for your specific situation or are causing a hardship, don’t just ignore the standing order. Doing so is a violation of a court order, and will likely anger the judge, hurt your case, and will put you at risk for being found in contempt of court.
The first thing you should do is carefully read the standing order. Some orders set out specific requirements to get the order changed or lifted. You can also try to reach an agreement in writing with the other party if it is a discrete issue and permissible under the standing order. Ultimately, you may have to present your request directly to a judge to resolve the issue and ensure you have permission to deviate from the order.
If you have orders in place from a previous proceeding and are confused about how those orders and the standing order work together, or if there is a conflict between the two orders, get advice from an attorney or seek clarification from the judge.