410th District Court Montgomery County
Failure to return children | Attorney representation | Nonessential Hearings Cancelled | Pro Se Matters
March 18, 2020
Re: Court Warning and Revised Modifications and Suspension of Certain Dockets
Dear Counselors and pro se litigants,
In addition to the reasons stated in the March 15, 2020 letter from the court regarding modifications and suspension of certain dockets, on March 18, 2020, County Judge Mark Keough issued a standing order effective March 19, 2020, wherein the county shall begin to operate in disaster mode. Accordingly, this Court issues the following warning, modifications, and suspension of certain dockets effective immediately and through April 10, 2020:
1) FAILURE TO RETURN CHILD(REN ) AFTER SPRING BREAK PER VISITATION ORDER:
Please be advised that if your underlying visitation order requires you (or your client) to return a child to the other parent at the time school resumes after Spring Break, or at 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes after Spring Break (or some other variant of that language in relation to Spring Break), and you withhold (or your client withholds) a child from the other parent because schools are not resuming in Montgomery County, Texas for an extended period of time after Spring Break due the imminent threat of COVID-19, you are to return the child to the other parent (or to instruct your client to do so) as if school had resumed as normal. There is no logical rationale for the court to allow a person to utilize a global/local emergency and pandemic to get around returning a child to the primary parent, despite the loophole that may present. If the Court must convene because of the above behavior (or your client’s behavior), the Court will sanction the appropriate party and award attorneys fees to the prevailing party. There have been reported illnesses of county employees within the main courthouse, who have been sent home. Each time you or your client cause the court to have to convene for an oral hearing, you are exposing all of the 410th District Court members, the bailiffs, the court clerk, and all of our families (as well as the attorneys, litigants, witnesses, yourself, your child, and the public at large) to possible infection. Your sanctions will be reflective of the risk you are creating.
Attorneys are Ordered to attempt to contact the opposing party or the opposing party’s attorney or former attorney if the underlying order is within 2 years old, and show him/her the court’s position on this type of behavior and attempt to resolve the matter without court intervention. Top
2) For cases where at least one party is represented by an attorney:
a) Agreed final orders in family law cases that require “prove-ups” for finalization, including divorce decrees, original SAPCRS orders, and modification orders (excluding modifications with no change of custody), shall be proved up by affidavit of at least one party, filed with the Court, along with the agreed final order signed by all necessary parties. No appearance in Court shall be necessary during this period.
Affidavits for agreed decrees of divorce should be substantially in this format, with the style and caption of the case appearing at the top of the page.
If you meet the above criteria and are currently scheduled on an ancillary docket between March 19, 2020 and April 10, 2020, you shall comply with this temporary, emergency modification of the Court’s dockets or else email the Court to reschedule your matter to a later date. DO NOT APPEAR IN COURT.
If you meet the above criteria and are not currently scheduled on a docket between March 19, 2020 and April 10, 2020, and you wish to be added to a submission docket, please contact the court via email after you have filed the agreed order and accompanying affidavit, and ask to be put on a docket for submission for your agreed order.
b) ALL TRIALS BETWEEN MARCH 19, 2020 AND APRIL 10, 2020 ARE BEING CONTINUED TO A FUTURE DATE. THE COURT WILL E-MAIL YOUR CONTINUANCE ORDER TO YOU SHORTLY. APRIL JURY TRIALS HAVE BEEN CANCELED. Top
c) All nonessential, oral, in-person evidentiary hearings currently scheduled to be heard between March 19, 2020 and April 10, 2020, are hereby canceled. You will not receive further notice. DO NOT APPEAR IN COURT. “Essential evidentiary hearings” shall include protective order hearings, CPS removal hearings, and temporary restraining order hearings in civil and family law matters. If you are scheduled for a temporary orders hearing (with no T.R.O.) in a family law matter during this period, your matter is canceled. You will need to e-mail the Court on April 13, 2020 or after to be re-scheduled. Do not contact the Court for a reset date prior to April 13, 2020, as the Judge and the staff are inundated with filings, phone calls and emails at this time.
If you have an emergency that requires an immediate hearing, file the appropriate motion and contact the Court so that the Court may review and determine whether it should be set for oral hearing. Do not contact
the court requesting a hearing unless it is an emergency of a real nature that would outweigh the
risk of the spread of COVID-19 to the public, court personnel, the judge, court clerks, bailiffs,
and the family members of same. PLEASE NOTE THAT SANCTIONS MAY BE ISSUED BY THE COURT FOR
LITIGANTS AND/OR THEIR ATTORNEYS WHO ABUSE THE PROCESS IN ORDER TO SECURE AN ORAL HEARING WHEN THERE IS NO REAL EMERGENCY.
If you are scheduled between March 19, 2020 and April 10, 2020 on an “essential evidentiary
hearing,” you may be contacted to reset your matter to a date and time in the near future in order
to coordinate the appropriate measures to minimize viral exposure. The Court may impose further
restrictions or hearing requirements, including electronic exhibits only, or possibly participation
via video conferencing.
Please understand that while remote hearings through Zoom may be free to the public, it will be
challenging to conduct an evidentiary hearing wherein everyone is appearing remotely, including
possibly your judge and your court reporter. These proceedings need to be limited to the matters
that must be heard immediately in order to keep the public safe.
If your “nonessential evidentiary hearing” during the stated dates has been canceled by the Court,
you may contact the Court via email to set said matter for hearing by submission in accordance with
the Local Rules of Montgomery County, Texas, or else you may have to wait until the imminent threat
of the COVID-19 virus has passed and restrictions by the court have been lifted. Motions to enter
shall be heard by submission during this time.
d) All motions that were previously required to be heard by submission shall continue to be placed on submission dockets during this period. Please email the Court to be placed on a submission docket.
e) If you were scheduled for a Pre-Trial hearing on March 20, 2020, your matter is being continued and you will be sent a new scheduling order shortly. Top
3) For cases where both parties are pro se:
a) If you received notice that your prove-up docket was reset to March 30, 2020, please contact Sarah Wedd at the law library (email@example.com) on or after March 18, 2020, so that the Court may coordinate with her to allow you to do your prove-up via affidavit and submission.
b) If you would like to be set on a prove-up docket in the future, please contact the
c) If you were scheduled for a Pre-Trial hearing on March 20, 2020, your matter is being continued and you should have already received a continuance order. Top
3/12/20 Standing Order:
A Standing Order was issued by the 410th District Court on March 12, 2020, to minimize the number
of people who must gather in the courtroom for Friday Pre-Trial dockets. Despite the fact that Pre-Trial hearings have been canceled for the period between March 19th and April 10th, the Standing Order remains in full force and effect until further notice, and remains applicable to all Pre-Trial hearings scheduled after April 10, 2020.
This Court shall re-evaluate the circumstances, and may extend these provisions, if necessary, to protect the health and safety of the public.
On behalf of myself and my staff, we appreciate your cooperation and wish you and family good health.
Presiding Judge, 410th District Court