Parties can try their family case to the judge or to a jury. In Texas, not all issues can go to a jury for a final decision. Juries can decide on the grounds of the divorce, the character of the property and the value of property. Juries can give an advisory opinion on how property will be divided, whether a prenup should be enforced, attorney fees and costs. Advisory means to give their opinion. The judge can override their opinions.
Divorce Jury Trial
In a divorce, a jury can decide the following issues, according to Texas Family Code:
- Grounds for the divorce. You probably won’t have to fight over whether you are fighting, but you might have to prove adultery or cruelty. This can be important in dividing the estate.
- Character of property. To determine what is community property and what is separate, for instance.
- To determine the value of property.
- To determine the existence of a disability for purposes of spousal maintenance.
The actual division of property can be given to jury, but only for an advisory opinion.
Child Custody Jury Trial
In a custody trial, a jury can decide the following issues, according to Texas Family Code 105.002:
- The appointment of a sole managing conservator.
- The appointment of a joint managing conservator.
- The appointment of a possessory conservator.
- The determination of which JMC has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence.
- The determination of whether to impose a restriction on the geographic area in which a joint managing conservator may designate the child’s primary residence.
- The determination of the geographic area within which a joint managing conservator must designate the child’s primary residence, if a geographic restriction is imposed.
A jury cannot decide the follow issues:
- Any issue as to parentage.
- Child support.
- A specific term or condition of possession of or access to a child.
- Any right or duty of a conservator. But, CANNOT decide which parent can determine the child’s primary residence.