El Paso

County civil case court to be converted to family law court in 2019

Family Law Court

EL PASO, Texas - Due to a backlog of family law cases, a county civil case court will be converted to a family court in 2019.

The Council of Judges said there are about 16,000 family law filings per year, compared to 6,000 civil case filings.

The Texas Office of Court Administration recommends that there be 10 full-time judges who hear family court cases. 

As it stands right now in El Paso County, there are eight full-time family law judges, and one part-time judge. 

"We're going to convert the docket of one of the county courts, since we're going to have three retirements. We're announcing it right now, that way we can have the right kind of candidates whose specialty is family law," said Alma Trejo, local administrative judge for the council of judges.

Trejo said the backlog is one of her main concerns.

"It's pretty substantial. Every year we get 16,000 cases which include protective orders, modifications, divorces, child support. Anything that involves family law," Trejo said.

Family law attorney Ouisa D. Davis said this backlog makes live for her and her clients more difficult.

"It's going to cause financial stress. It's going to cause emotional stress. It's going to cause conflict. It's nobody's fault. It's just the reality that we live with here on the border," Davis said.

Davis has been practicing law for 27 years, and spent time working for the County's domestic relations office, so she's familiar with the court's challenges. She said she has two clients who are seeking custody of their child, and the backlog has been hard on them.
"One case we started in January, we had the second part of the final hearing on June 1st," Davis said. "Those clients, that family, was pretty much in limbo for almost six months."
Davis said she's thankful the Council of Judges is addressing the problem, but there is still work that needs to be done.
"We still need additional civil courts. Those courts are backed up as well," Davis said.

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