How to Find and Cite Texas Statutes
State and federal statutes (laws) are primary legal authorities. In order to find the specific statutory law you seek and then be able to communicate it to another requires a basic understanding of how a particular collection of laws are organized. Each state does it somewhat differently.
Basic high school civics taught us that lawmakers, such as state legislatures, busily draft, argue and pass ‘bills’ that might or might not be vetoed by the governor. These legislative enactment arise in a random sequence. One day a tax law may be enacted and the next day it could be a family law provision. These assorted laws are then organized into a logical structure called a ‘code’. The process is called codification.
The State of Texas currently has thirty-one statutory codes, including such as the Tax Code, the Family Law Code, the Civil Practice and Remedies Code and so forth. In order to get along well with lawyers and judges in Texas, one must write about the various parts of these Texas statutory codes just the same way they like it done in Texas. This is true of all states. If you want a Texas judge to understand exactly which Texas law you are writing about, you must provide a citation to the law in a format that the Texas judge already understands. This is just an everyday part of writing and talking as if you were a lawyer and know what you are doing. If you screw this up, you instantly brand yourself as a greenhorn, which is not good.
Generally, Texas codes are organized by name, title, subtitle, chapter and section. For example, the Texas statutory law relating specifically to wage withholding for the collection of child support is found in the Texas Family Code, Title 5, Subtitle B, Chapter 158. Within this chapter are collected a number of specific code sections. This is a proper form of citing the specific section the outlines the general rule for child support wage withholding:
Texas Family Code § 5.158.001. Also: TFC § 5.158.001
If you do it this way, everyone will know what you are talking about and you will look like a pro.
Note: The squiggly mark (§) is lawyer shorthand for ‘section’. In this example, § 5.158.oo1 means Title 5, chapter 158, section 001.
Link to Texas Codes