Articles Posted in Family Law

In our last blog entry, we discussed several aspects of San Antonio and greater Bexar County juvenile adjudication , the equivalent of an adult criminal trial. In a juvenile delinquency proceeding, a juvenile may only be convicted upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

A San Antonio juvenile defense lawyer will pay particular attention to the petition, which must state the specific time, place, and manner of the alleged criminal acts and the specific penal laws the juvenile is alleged to have violated. If a trial does not prove the specific acts of a petition, then an acquittal is in order.

Moreover, the simple testimony of an accomplice is not enough to convict a juvenile. There must be other evidence presented to connect the juvenile to the crime beyond the testimony of an accomplice. Nor will a juvenile’s out of court statement be sufficient to prove an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The same Texas Rules of Evidence that are applicable to San Antonio adult criminal defense are also applicable to the juvenile adjudication proceeding.

In our last blog entry on the differences between the Texas Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems , we touched base briefly on the fourth option available to the disposition of a juvenile case : Adjudication.

A San Antonio juvenile defense lawyer will always seek deferred prosecution for his clients but there are times the prosecutor and probation officer will not accept such a recommendation. In an adjudication, which is the equivalent of a criminal trial, it is absolutely essential that the juvenile appreciates the nature and potential consequences of an adjudication hearing. Under Section 54 of the Texas Family Code , a juvenile may not have been found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct in need of supervision (CINS) without an adjudication hearing.

Adjudication will only be considered to have occurred after an evidentiary hearing. There are six (6) general ways the hearing will be conducted based on whether the juvenile is contesting the charges. If the client agrees, a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer will contest the charges and choose as to whether the trial should be conducted before a jury or as a bench trial before the judge. Where the juvenile decides not to contest the charges, there are four (4) possible ways to go depending on the local practice of the court: a stipulation of evidence, agreed statement of facts, judicial confession, or plea of true.

In our last blog entry on the Texas Juvenile Justice System, we introduced the basic purposes behind Texas juvenile justice. The San Antonio and greater Bexar County Juvenile Justice System possesses several distinct differences from the Texas Adult Criminal Justice System. The first major difference is the actual language or terminology used with the Texas juvenile system.

The juvenile equivalent of an adult criminal trial is known as ”adjudication”, but it is important to note that the Juvenile Justice Code clearly states that an adjudication is not a conviction. Whereas adult offenders must deal with vocabulary like “arrest, bail, bond, indictment, conviction, and sentence”, Texas juveniles have an entirely different set of terms. San Antonio juveniles can be “detained, referred, released from detention, adjudicated, and either placed on probation or be completely separated from their home”. The actual allegation against the juvenile is a civil petition, not a criminal indictment. Whereas adult records are subject to expunction, juvenile records are “sealed”.

The next major difference between a juvenile offender and an adult offender in Bexar County is the wider array of procedural options available to a juvenile under the Texas Juvenile Justice Code. In a criminal allegation against a juvenile, the alleged crime is classified as either “delinquent conduct” or “conduct in need of supervision”. Delinquent conduct is that conduct which violates a penal law and is punishable by jail. Conduct in need of supervision (CINS) generally includes less serious legal violations and certain types of non-criminal conduct, like violations of school conduct policy.

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code has undergone many changes over the past few years as legislators try to balance getting kids to accept responsibility for their conduct and distinguishing between adult crimes and juvenile crimes. The overarching consideration in how to treat juveniles in the criminal justice system has always been what is in the “best interest of the child”. Sometimes, what is in the best interest of the child can justify a harsh resolution as much as a lenient one.

Under the Texas Family Code, the juvenile courts have authority over any child provided the child is over the age of ten (10) and was under the age of seventeen (17) when the alleged crime took place. In fact, juvenile courts can adjudicate an act of juvenile delinquent conduct up to the child’s eighteenth (18th) birthday provided the events took place before the child’s seventeenth (17) birthday. Jurisdiction by the juvenile courts concludes upon the child’s attainment of eighteen (18) years of age.

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code, is contained in section 51.01 of the Family Code. The Juvenile Justice Code lists several purposes including but not limited to the protection of the public and public safety. While the Code seeks to promote the concept of punishment and deterrence, it also tries to remove the “taint of criminality” from those juveniles acting unlawfully.

In San Antonio and Bexar County, even an uncontested divorce must deal with potentially thorny children’s issues, known more commonly as the SAPCR (Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship). The following paragraphs discuss some basic legal concepts regarding children in an uncontested divorce which can be handled by an experienced Bexar County and San Antonio divorce attorney .

Under Texas Family Code, Chapter 153 , parties may enter into a written mutual parenting plan which covers conservatorship, possession, and modification. Under Texas law, the parent-child relationship refers to the legal relationship between the parents and the child. Parents have many rights and duties under the Family Code including a right to physical possession of the child, a duty to support and discipline the child, a duty to manage the estate of the child, a right to represent the child in a legal action, and right to make decisions concerning the child’s education.


In Bexar County courts , both the father and mother are each named as conservators, with one parent usually named as the managing conservator. However, the courts presume that appointment of both parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child. Even in a joint managing conservatorship (JMC), one conservator is given the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child with geographic restrictions. A child 12 years of age or older can file a written statement with the Bexar County divorce court , expressing their preference for the parent with the exclusive right to determine residence.

One of the most potentially divisive areas in divorce is the division of the marital property . It should be noted that a marriage relationship under Texas creates three (3) different types of property. The first type of estate is the community property which includes the property owned and the debts owed by both parties. The other two types of property are the separate property owned and debts owed by the husband and wife, known as the separate estates.


Under the Texas Family Code , courts in Bexar County and greater San Antonio operate under the assumption that any property acquired during the marriage is community property. However, the label of community property does not apply to spousal property acquired before the marriage or property acquired by the spouse by gift or inheritance or recovery for personal injuries. Often in a marriage, there will be an intermingling between the marital community property and separate property of each spouse. For example, an economic contribution claim can occur where the principal on the debt of a separate property is paid through community property income. A San Antonio divorce lawyer can calculate potential economic contribution claims based on the type of assets involved and specific formulas through the Texas Family Code. If a spouse contributes time and effort to paying off the principal on the separate property of another estate, a reimbursement claim can arise as well. Economic contribution and reimbursement claims can be placed as liens or judgments on separate property.

There is a common misperception that in Texas, community property is automatically divided equally between the parties, i.e. Texas is a 50/50 state. This perception is not necessarily true. Bexar County courts for example take into account various factors including the fault of the parties in divorce, earning capacity, and the amount of separate property.

Even an uncontested divorce can be an incredibly gut-wrenching experience. It pays to have an experienced San Antonio Texas family and divorce law attorney to handle even uncontested divorces. The following items discuss some basic principles in Texas divorce law.

In order to file for divorce in Bexar County, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six (6) months before filing. For Bexar county, there is a ninety (90) day requirement for residence. Texas does permit the filing of a “no fault” divorce, although the parties can include other reasons including cruelty and adultery. The Bexar County District Clerk sets forth specific requirements for the petition and the filing fee.


Generally in an uncontested divorce, once the petition is filed, the Respondent (ie. the spouse answering the petition for divorce) will sign a waiver of citation after he has been provided a file marked copy of the petition. Generally, the Respondent should file an answer to the petition before the Monday following twenty (20) days after service of the petition. Even if an answer is not filed, a default divorce can be overturned in San Antonio where the Respondent is not given notice of a final hearing.

Contact Information