312th Family Court

Appearing in court for a family law matter can be stressful for all involved parties, but if you or a loved one is expected in the 312th Family Court, advance research can help demystify the process. By learning more about the specific court’s location, leadership, docket schedule, and policies and procedures, lawyers and their clients may be better prepared.

The 312TH Family Court at a Glance

There are several courts within the Harris County court system that hear family law matters, and the 312th Family Court is one of them. The court is located on the sixteenth floor of the Harris County Civil Courthouse at 201 Caroline in downtown Houston. The Honorable Clinton E. Wells Jr. is the presiding judge, and The Honorable Kimberly Baughman is the associate judge. Parties with specific questions about the 312th Family Court may choose to call the court’s main number at 713-274-4540.

Brief History of Judge Wells Jr.’s Role in the 312TH Family Court

The Honorable Clinton E. Wells Jr. has practiced law for more than forty years. He was elected to the 312th Family Court in 2018 with a platform that emphasized putting families first, the importance of community, understanding courts are about justice, and that communication can be the key to success.

Docket Structure of the 312TH Family District Court

Every court that oversees family law matters has a particular way of structuring their own docket schedule. This can change from court to court, but as of 2019 the following docket structure is in place for the 312th Family Court:

Monday

  • Uncontested docket 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (and as court availability allows)
  • Trial docket 9 a.m.

Tuesday

  • Uncontested docket 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (and as court availability allows)
  • Temporary order hearings 9 a.m.
  • Contempt 9 a.m.

Wednesday

  • Uncontested docket 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (and as court availability allows)
  • Temporary order hearings 9 a.m.

Thursday

  • Uncontested docket 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (and as court availability allows)
  • CPS docket 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Friday

  • Uncontested docket 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (and as court availability allows)
  • Entry and Submission docket 9 a.m.

Key Policies and Procedures of the 312TH Family District Court of Harris Co., TX

In addition to unique docket schedules, many family law courts also have a specific set of policies and procedures they expect to be followed. As of 2019, the following policies and procedures are expected to be observed in the 312th Family Court:

  • To prove up an uncontested matter at any time other than weekdays between 8:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., parties should contact the clerk directly to ensure a judge’s availability.
  • The court may limit temporary orders to one and half hours per party. A request for temporary orders in a modification case requires an affidavit and approval by a judge.
  • The court’s submission docket is Fridays at 9 a.m. after ten days advance notice. Parties need to contact the clerk immediately following the filing of the motion and proposed order if they wish to be placed on the submission docket.
  • Oral hearings may be added to the submission docket if the party files a separate request and obtains an oral hearing date from the clerk. Written responses should be filed a minimum of two working days before the date of submission, with the exception being leave of court.
  • Motions that may be placed on the submission docket can include: Motion for Substitute Service, Motion to Substitute Counsel, Motion for Service by Publication, Motion to Transfer, and Motion for Summary Judgement.
  • Enforcement cases require an official payment history from the Texas Office of the Attorney General. If incarceration is requested, a proposed commitment order is required. The deadline for entry of commitment orders is 2 p.m. on the date of incarceration.
  • Regarding discovery disputes, the court expects counsel to make every effort to try to resolve discovery issues outside of court intervention. However, if court intervention is required, the litigant seeking the intervention must file a letter with certain specifications to the lead clerk. The Court will then hold a brief phone conference with the parties and give the other party a chance to respond before setting a submission/hearing date.
  • Mediation must occur before the final trial in most cases. If a litigant is seeking an exception, they must file a motion. Mediation can be crucial, as failure to participate could cause the case to be dismissed.
  • Mediation is also necessary before temporary orders involving complex property issues or conservatorship disputes, although there can be some exceptions.
  • Pretrial conferences must occur prior to jury trials and are usually scheduled on a Friday two weeks before the trial. Parties should review and comply with the court’s Trial Preparation Order.
  • Pretrial conferences are also required for adoption cases.
  • Ex parte temporary restraining orders are expected to be mutual, unless supported by affidavit.
  • The court may appoint an attorney ad litem or an amicus attorney if they deem it necessary.

What To Know Before You Go

When set to appear at the 312th Family Court, there are several general guidelines litigants and those present in the courtroom are expected to follow.

Litigants and their lawyers should make every effort to appear in court on time. To ensure a timely appearance, research the proper road route in advance and allow for traffic congestion in the courthouse. As a general rule, individuals should allow themselves twenty minutes to get from the entry of the building to the courtroom.

Take care to dress appropriately and professionally. Men should plan to wear slacks, a button-down collar shirt, and close toed shoes. Women should wear something similar or equally appropriate for the courtroom.

Unless the court specifically invites your child to interview in the judge’s chambers, make it a point to arrange for proper childcare. Children are not allowed in the courtroom without express permission from the court.

Electronic devices must be silenced or turned off in the courtroom. No photos, videos, or recordings are allowed.

No chewing gum, food, or drink is allowed in the courtroom.