257th Family Court

Attending court for family issues can be an emotional event for many, however, by learning how the 257th Family Court works, litigants may feel more at ease about the process from start to finish. The court is one of fifteen within the Harris County court system that handles family law cases. Work with your lawyer to review the court’s location, leadership, docket structure, and important policies and procedures to be better equipped for your courtroom experience.

The 257TH Family Court at a Glance

The 257th Family District Court is located at 201 Caroline, Houston, Texas, 77002. Not all family law courts located within the Harris County Civil Courthouse are located on the same floor. Please note the 257th Family Court is on the sixteenth floor. To contact the court by phone, individuals may call 713.274.4560. The presiding judge of this court is The Honorable Sandra Peake. The associate judge for the 257th Family Court is The Honorable Deborah Patterson.

Brief History of Judge Peake’s Role in the 257TH Family Court

Prior to being elected as the presiding district judge of Harris County’s 257th Family Court in 2018, The Honorable Sandra Peake worked as an attorney at the Law Offices of David G. Peake & Sandra J. Peake, P.C. Judge Peake’s legal background includes more than thirty years of practice including family law. Part of Judge Peake’s election platform in 2018 was dedicated to protecting the family unit.

Docket Structure of the 257TH Family District Court

Each Harris County court that presides over family law cases usually has a unique daily procedure for docket call. As of 2019, the following weekday schedule is representative of the court’s docket structure:

Monday

  • Uncontested matters heard from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Docket call at 9 a.m.
  • Trials at 9 a.m.

Tuesday

  • CPS hearings 8 a.m.
  • Uncontested matters heard from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Docket call at 9 a.m.
  • Ancillary and temporary order matters set for 9 a.m.

Wednesday

  • Uncontested matters heard from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Docket call at 9 a.m.
  • Ancillary and temporary order matters set for 9 a.m.

Thursday

  • Uncontested matters heard from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Docket call at 9 a.m.
  • Ancillary and temporary order matters set for 9 a.m.
  • Enforcement actions

Friday

  • Uncontested matters heard from 8:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Docket call at 9 a.m.
  • Entries 9 a.m.
  • Discovery matters 1:30 p.m.

Key Policies and Procedures of the 257TH Family District Court of Harris Co., TX

The 257th Family District Court has specific policies and procedures it expects to be followed by litigators and litigants. A partial and brief listing of some of these policies as of 2019 are listed below:

  • Temporary order hearings are typically restricted to one hour per side. Orders for modification or additional temporary orders must have an affidavit and court approval before a hearing can be set.
  • Regarding enforcement actions, if a party is requesting or expecting incarceration, commitment orders are required and must be present at the hearing.
  • All necessary signatures must appear on orders submitted for Entries so a docket sheet can be created.
  • Mediation is required prior to final trials. However, it could be waived upon the filing of a motion and a hearing.
  • Mediation is also required before a temporary hearing if custody is a concern.
  • Prove up of default divorces require a sworn inventory, a certificate of last known address, and a non-military affidavit by the litigant.
  • Pretrial conferences are mandatory for all jury trials and termination/adoption cases. Litigants should review the court’s Pre-trial Conference Checklist with their legal representation beforehand.
  • Ex-parte temporary restraining orders should be joint and mutual, however, there may be some exceptions to this rule if supported by an affidavit.
  • An Attorney Ad Litem is typically appointed in cases of posting and publication.
  • An Amicus Attorney may be appointed by the court in cases where the possession or conservatorship of a child is in dispute and in cases of termination/adoption. The 257th court will provide an order to be signed by both counsel and parties. The counsel and parties will be required to work together to establish an initial deposit and amicus hourly rate.
  • Some special exceptions can be made by the 257th Family Court to standing policies and procedures if deemed necessary to provide consistency and fairness in the matter at hand.

What To Know Before You Go

When appearing before a judge in any court of law, litigants should be careful to observe that specific courtroom’s rules and restrictions and do their best to look and act professional. If you or a loved one will be appearing in the 257th Family District Court, work with your lawyer to meet the proper expectations.

Plan your route to the courtroom ahead of time and be sure to factor in roadway traffic. In addition, depending on the specific time of day, it can take some individuals as much as twenty minutes or more to make their way from the front door of the courthouse up to the sixteenth floor. It is imperative that you be on time for court appearances.

Take extra care with your appearance so that it is seen as professional. Men should plan to wear slacks and button-down shirts that are tucked in. Socks and close toed shoes are recommended. Women may wear something similar or equally appropriate for the courtroom.

All electronic devices and phones must be in silent mode or turned off while present in the courtroom.

Photos and videoing are prohibited in the court with the exception being some adoption cases.

Unless advance court approval has been granted, children may not be present in the courtroom. Plan ahead to make proper childcare arrangements prior to your appearance in court.