The Texas Constitution provides for a county court in each of the 254 counties of Texas, though all such courts do not exercise judicial functions. In the more populous counties, the county judge may devote his or her full attention to the administration of county government. The Legislature has also created statutory county courts at law in more populous counties to aid the single county court in its judicial functions. The legal jurisdiction of the various county-level-trial courts varies depending on the specific statute that created it. Generally, county courts do not have jurisdiction to determine suits related to determining title to land.

A suit “for the recovery of land” is a suit that determines title. See, e.g., Doggett v. Nitschke, 498 S.W.2d 339, 339 (Tex.1973) (“A county court does not have jurisdiction to try questions of title to land.”); Chambers v. Pruitt, 241 S.W.3d 679, 684 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2007, no pet.) (“District courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction to determine title to real property.”). Suits for the recovery of land include more than simply disputes over the identity of the fee simple owner. See, e.g., Coughran v. Nunez, 133 Tex. 303, 127 S.W.2d 885, 887 (1939) (expressing “no doubt” that easements “constitute an interest in real estate,” a dispute over the existence of which “necessarily involved the trial of title to real estate”); Stewart v. Rockdale State Bank, 124 Tex. 431, 79 S.W.2d 116, 118–19 (1935) (county court does not have jurisdiction to determine a claim of homestead, to correct a deed, or to establish whether a tract of land is community property or separate property); State v. Reece, 374 S.W.2d 686, 688 (Tex.Civ.App.-Houston 1964, no writ) (validity of deed restrictions is question of title). A leasehold is an interest in real property, and a dispute over the existence of a leasehold involves a question of title to real property. See Gottschalk v. Gottschalk, 212 S.W.2d 223, 224 (Tex.Civ.App.-Austin 1948, no writ) (because action “could not be maintained without invalidating the lease,” district court alone had jurisdiction). Merit Mgmt. Partners I, L.P. v. Noelke, 266 S.W.3d 637, 643 (Tex. App. 2008)

In Merit Mgmt. Partners I, the Austin Court of Appeals ruled that county courts that are not permitted to determine title to land also lack jurisdiction if title is a part of the case. The court explained: While some of the early case law excluded from a county court’s subject-matter jurisdiction only those cases in which the court’s judgment would include an award of title to land, see, e.g., Schott, 29 S.W. at 681, under Coughran the district courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over cases in which a judicial determination of a title dispute between the parties is necessary to render the judgment, even if the judgment itself does not include an express grant of relief with respect to title, see Kegans, 131 S.W.2d at 994–95. Merit Mgmt. Partners I, L.P. v. Noelke, 266 S.W.3d 637, 647 (Tex. App. 2008)

Accordingly, in lawsuits related to title, easements, and land, it is important to determine what court the action should be raised to avoid jurisdictional issues. Be sure to consult with an attorney that understands title law in Texas if you plan to pursue a claim related to title.