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"Standing Orders" in Divorce and Custody Proceeding in Texas

Posted by James Victor Esh | Dec 05, 2023

Understanding the Significance of Standing Orders in Texas Law

As a practicing attorney in Texas, navigating the legal landscape often involves ensuring that clients understand the intricacies of various legal terms and processes. One such crucial element within family law cases is the concept of "standing orders."

Standing orders are court-issued directives that automatically apply to every party involved in a specific type of legal action. In family law, these orders play a pivotal role in establishing ground rules and expectations from the outset of a case, governing behavior and protecting the rights of both parties.

It is also important to note that not every jurisdiction in Texas uses standing orders.  It has been my experience though that the larger cities and population centers are likely to have them in place.  

The Purpose of Standing Orders

The primary purpose of standing orders is to maintain the status quo and protect the rights and interests of all parties involved in a legal proceeding. They establish guidelines to prevent one party from taking unilateral actions that could potentially harm the other party or the subject of the legal action.

In divorce and child custody cases, for instance, standing orders might include directives regarding the sale of assets, restraining orders against relocating children outside a certain radius, guidelines for managing joint finances, or prohibitions on disparaging remarks about the other party in the presence of the children.

Automatic Application and Importance

One of the significant aspects of standing orders is their automatic application. Once a case is filed, these orders come into effect without the need for a hearing or additional legal motions. This swift implementation helps maintain stability and prevents immediate disruption in the lives of those involved.

Understanding these orders is vital for any party engaged in family law proceedings. Failure to adhere to standing orders can result in legal repercussions, so it's essential to grasp their implications from the outset of a case.

While they may go in place automatically, there are legal issues as to whether they are enforceable against the other party if the other party has not been formerly served with the standing orders.  It is important that after filing a matter, the opposing party is served with the divorce lawsuit along with the standing orders as soon as possible.  There is a a debate on whether standing orders are enforceable by contempt in certain and under what situations they are enforceable by contempt.  Regardless, the standing orders have been approved by the local judges and regardless if you can hold someone in contempt for a violation, if you or the opposing party violates the standing order, the Judge you will be explaining the violation to likely signed off on the standing order.  


Understanding the nuances of standing orders is crucial, and seeking legal counsel to interpret and abide by these orders can significantly impact the trajectory of a case. As legal professionals, it's our responsibility to guide our clients through these complexities and ensure their rights and interests are safeguarded within the bounds of the law.

About the Author

James Victor Esh

Victor understands the struggles of families.  It is at the core of how he practices.  When a family must be reshaped, he understands the emotional struggle this causes.  He seeks to resolve conflicts in the most efficient way by reaching agreements where they can be made.  When an agreement can'...

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