C. De Novo Hearing vs. Trial De Novo

The Supreme Court of Texas held in the In the Interest of A.L.M.-F. case that neither Tex. Fam. Code § 201.015 nor any other provision of the Texas Family Code expressly confers a right to a jury trial in a de novo hearing.[5] The A.L.M.-F case distinguishes a De Novo Hearing and a Trial De Novo. A “trial de novo” is a new and independent action in the reviewing court with “all the attributes of an original action” as if no trial of any kind has occurred in the court below.[6] But a de novo hearing under Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 201 is not equivalent to a new trial as review by the referring court under Tex. Fam. Code § 201.015 is not entirely independent of the proceedings before the associate judge. Accordingly, the term “de novo hearing,” as used in Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 201, does not equate to a “trial de novo.” Rather, the term “de novo hearing” has meaning that is unique to the associate judge referral statutes and governed by the procedures specified in the authorizing statutes.[7] As stated above, de novo hearings are limited to the specific issues stated in the de novo hearing request. Tex. Fam. Code § 201.015(b).