Deion and Pilar Sanders’ divorce began on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in Collin County and is anticipated to continue through this upcoming week. Deion Sanders filed for divorce from his Wife, Pilar, in 2011 and the last two years of litigation has culminated into a jury trial of their peers.
Texas permits jury trials in divorce actions on very limited issues. In the Sanders divorce, the issues to be decided by the jury is which parent should be the “primary” conservator of the children and whether there should be a restriction on where the children may reside. In Texas, there is a presumption that two parents should be Joint Managing Conservators which means that they have equal rights and duties to the children. What makes a parent the “primary” conservator is that the parent has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children. The jury in the Sanders divorce will decide whether Deion or Pilar should have the exclusive right to designate the children’s primary residence.
The second issue the jury will decide is whether there should be a geographic restriction placed on the residence of the children. There is a presumption in Texas Family Law that continuing contact with a child by both parents is in a child’s best interest. The best way to ensure continuing contact with a child by both parents is to impose a geographic restriction on where a child will reside. The Sanders jury will not only decide which parent should have the exclusive right to designate the children’s primary residence but also whether that primary residence should be restricted to a geographical area. In Texas, depending on the evidence that is presented to a judge or jury, geographic restrictions range from a certain county, to a certain county and any county contiguous to that county, to the state of Texas or no restriction at all.
Both of the issues of who should be the primary conservator and whether there should be a geographic restriction on the residence of a child generally involve the same types of evidence. Important issues to address with a judge or jury is each parent’s level of involvement in a child’s life from education to extracurricular activities to medical as well as a parent’s ability to co-parent with the other parent. The Sanders jury has heard and will continue to hear evidence regarding each parent’s involvement in these areas and it is anticipated that the jury will begin deliberations by the end of this week