About Texas Courts

Specialty Courts 

Child Support & Child Protection Specialty Courts

OCA provides administrative support to the presiding judges of the nine administrative judicial regions for its child support courts and child protection courts programs in accordance with Chapter 201 of the Texas Family Code. OCA employs a specialty courts program director to manage the administrative functions and provide customer service to the specialty courts personnel, and provide extensive additional staff support and services for the programs.

Child Support Courts

The child support courts were created in response to the federal requirement that states create expedited administrative or judicial processes to resolve child support cases. The child support court associate judges are appointed by the presiding judges of the administrative judicial regions. The program is administered by the Office of Court Administration.

OCA employs 44 associate judges and 43 administrative assistants to hear and dispose of Title IV-D child support establishment and enforcement cases and paternity cases within the expedited time frames established by Chapter 201.110 of the Texas Family Code. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) provides purchasing and on-site technical (computer) support.

The child support courts program is funded with federal and state funds. The OCA receives the funds through a cooperative agreement with the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The existing agreement authorizes the OCA to expend approximately $5 million annually to operate the program. Of that amount, approximately 66% comes from federal funds and the remainder comes from general revenue appropriated to the OAG.

Child Protection Courts

The specialty child protection courts in Texas were created to assist trial courts in the rural areas in managing their child abuse and neglect dockets. Like the child support court associate judges, these associate judges are appointed by the presiding judges and are OCA employees. At the discretion of the presiding judge, visiting judges are sometimes appointed to hear these cases instead of associate judges.

The judges assigned to these dockets hear child abuse and neglect cases exclusively. Therefore, children can achieve permanency more quickly and the quality of placement decisions should be higher. The 24 child protection courts operate in 130 counties.

Other Specialty Court Programs

The Governor's Criminal Justice Division maintains a list of current specialty court programs, which include family drug court, drug court, veterans court, and mental health court programs. These programs are governed by Title 2, Subtitle K (Specialty Courts) and Section 772.0061 of the Texas Government Code.