The Travis County Civil Court system is comprised of eleven District Courts which have original jurisdiction in all divorce cases. The Local Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Decorum govern procedures in all District Court cases and provide instructions to parties regarding issues ranging from setting cases on the Central Docket (discussed further below) to child support and spousal maintenance orders.
All Family Law cases filed on or after January 1, 2020 in Travis County are also subject to the Travis County Standing Order for Family Law Cases. The stated purpose of the Standing Order is to “protect the parties and their children and to preserve the parties’ property while a divorce case or suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) is pending before the Court.” The Standing Order takes effect when an original petition is filed in a divorce case or SAPCR.
Travis County operates on a central docket system, meaning that unless a case is assigned to a specific judge, any district judge in Travis County may hear any matter in an individual case. Put simply: the case is assigned to a particular court with a “rotating” judge to hear contested matters. For example, one judge may preside over a Temporary Orders hearing, while another judge may preside over a Summary Judgment hearing several months later. By contrast, in some other Texas counties, the same judge presides over every matter in a case from start to finish.
However, in Travis County, unless a case is assigned to a specific judge, parties with a contested hearing on the central docket won’t know which judge will preside over the hearing until about five to ten minutes prior to the hearing, when assignments are displayed at the courthouse.
Travis County’s Civil Courts are housed in the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, which is located at 1000 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701.