Can I demand a jury trial on a suit involving a child?

The right to a jury trial is not without limitations. The Texas Family Code provides limited circumstances in which a child custody battle can be decided by a jury. In suits involving children, a jury can determine the issues of: (1) appointing someone as sole managing conservator, joint managing conservator, possessory conservator; (2) determining which conservator has the right to determine the primary residence of the child; and (3) establishing a geographic restriction on a child.

In suits involving children, a jury MAY NOT: (1) determine whether or not to grant an adoption, (2) determine whether or not to adjudicate parentage; (3) determine whether or not to establish a child support obligation (or the amount of the obligation; (4) specify the term or conditions of possession of or access to a child; and (5) determine any other rights or duties of a conservatory.

Although you have a right to a jury trial, it isn’t automatic: a jury trial must be requested by one of the parties. There are several strategic reasons why a jury trial may be better than having the judge determine all of the issues. Often times, a child custody dispute involves some issues that may be determined by a jury and some issues that may not be determined by a jury. In those situation, the final resolution of the lawsuit will be determined partially by the judge and partially by the jury.

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