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Overlapping jurisdiction - Dallas Probate and Family Courts.

Dallas County is one of several counties that has statutory probate courts. In addition to statutory probate courts, Dallas County also has dedicated family district courts (some counties, i.e. Collin, have district courts of general jurisdiction). Dallas divorce lawyers need to know that the jurisdiction between these two courts can sometimes overlap.

In Dallas county, divorce suits are brought in the family district courts and suits pertaining to guardianship of an individual are brought in the probate court. If a Dallas divorce case involves issues of guardianship, then under the Texas Probate Code, the probate court has jurisdiction to hear matters "appertaining to" or "incident to" the guardianship proceeding. The effect of this is that the entire divorce proceeding can be transferred to the Dallas probate courts.

This overlap of jurisdiction can come up when one party to the divorce has been deemed incapacitated by the probate court and is seeking (or responding to) a divorce. Another instance the overlap of jurisdiction can arise is when an adult disabled child has been declared incapacitated by the probate court and one of the parties to the divorce action is seeking adult disabled child support. In addition to the Texas Probate Code, a provision of the Texas Family Code provides a probate court jurisdiction in a guardianship proceeding for the person after the person is an adult.

Jurisdiction is a confusing area of the law, but it can make a huge impact on the outcome of a case. Knowing which court you can have your matter heard in gives you additional options, and sometimes a more favorable outcome.