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Child Custody: Conservatorship, Possession and Access Part 2 - Texas Family Law

Texas Family Law
CHILD CUSTODY: CONSERVATORSHIP, POSSESSION, AND ACCESS
Part 2

TEXAS FAMILY CODE, TITLE 5, SUBTITLE B., CHAPTER 153.

APPOINTMENT OF NONPARENT AS CONSERVATOR

§ 153.371. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NONPARENT APPOINTED AS SOLE MANAGING CONSERVATOR.

Unless limited by court order or other provisions of this chapter, a nonparent, a licensed child-placing agency, or the Department of Family and Protective Services appointed as a managing conservator of the child has the following rights and duties:

(1) the right to have physical possession and to direct the moral and religious training of the child;

(2) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;

(3) the duty to provide the child with clothing, food, shelter, education, and medical, psychological, and dental care;

(4) the right to consent for the child to medical, psychiatric, psychological, dental, and surgical treatment and to have access to the child's medical records;

(5) the right to receive and give receipt for payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse funds for the benefit of the child;

(6) the right to the services and earnings of the child;

(7) the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;

(8) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;

(9) except when a guardian of the child's estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child's estate if the child's action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;

(10) the right to designate the primary residence of the child and to make decisions regarding the child's education; and

(11) if the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to the parents, or only living parent, or if there is no living parent, the right to consent to the adoption of the child and to make any other decision concerning the child that a parent could make.

§ 153.372. NONPARENT APPOINTED AS JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATOR.

(a) A nonparent, the Department of Family and Protective Services, or a licensed child-placing agency appointed as a joint managing conservator may serve in that capacity with either another nonparent or with a parent of the child.

(b) The procedural and substantive standards regarding an agreed or court-ordered joint managing conservatorship provided by Subchapter C apply to a nonparent joint managing conservator.

§ 153.3721. ACCESS TO CERTAIN RECORDS BY NONPARENT JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATOR.

Unless limited by court order or other provisions of this chapter, a nonparent joint managing conservator has the right of access to the medical records of the child, without regard to whether the right is specified in the order.

§ 153.373. VOLUNTARY SURRENDER OF POSSESSION REBUTS PARENTAL PRESUMPTION.

The presumption that a parent should be appointed or retained as managing conservator of the child is rebutted if the court finds that:

(1) the parent has voluntarily relinquished actual care, control, and possession of the child to a nonparent, a licensed child-placing agency, or the Department of Family and Protective Services for a period of one year or more, a portion of which was within 90 days preceding the date of intervention in or filing of the suit; and

(2) the appointment of the nonparent, agency, or Department of Family and Protective Services as managing conservator is in the best interest of the child.

§ 153.374. DESIGNATION OF MANAGING CONSERVATOR IN AFFIDAVIT OF RELINQUISHMENT.

(a) A parent may designate a competent person, the Department of Family and Protective Services, or a licensed child-placing agency to serve as managing conservator of the child in an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights executed as provided by Chapter 161.

(b) The person, Department of Family and Protective Services, or agency designated to serve as managing conservator shall be appointed managing conservator unless the court finds that the appointment would not be in the best interest of the child.

§ 153.375. ANNUAL REPORT BY NONPARENT MANAGING CONSERVATOR.

(a) A nonparent appointed as a managing conservator of a child shall each 12 months after the appointment file with the court a report of facts concerning the child's welfare, including the child's whereabouts and physical condition.

(b) The report may not be admitted in evidence in a subsequent suit.

§ 153.376. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NONPARENT POSSESSORY CONSERVATOR.

(a) Unless limited by court order or other provisions of this chapter, a nonparent, a licensed child-placing agency, or the Department of Family and Protective Services appointed as a possessory conservator has the following rights and duties during the period of possession:

(1) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;

(2) the duty to provide the child with clothing, food, and shelter; and

(3) the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child.

(b) A nonparent possessory conservator has any other right or duty specified in the order.

§ 153.377. ACCESS TO CHILD'S RECORDS.

A nonparent possessory conservator has the right of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child to the same extent as the managing conservator, without regard to whether the right is specified in the order.

RIGHTS OF GRANDPARENT, AUNT, OR UNCLE

§ 153.431. APPOINTMENT OF GRANDPARENT, AUNT, OR UNCLE AS MANAGING CONSERVATOR.

If both of the parents of a child are deceased, the court may consider appointment of a parent, sister, or brother of a deceased parent as a managing conservator of the child, but that consideration does not alter or diminish the discretionary power of the court.

§ 153.432. SUIT FOR POSSESSION OR ACCESS BY GRANDPARENT.

(a) A biological or adoptive grandparent may request possession of or access to a grandchild by filing:

(1) an original suit; or

(2) a suit for modification as provided by Chapter 156.

(b) A grandparent may request possession of or access to a grandchild in a suit filed for the sole purpose of requesting the relief, without regard to whether the appointment of a managing conservator is an issue in the suit.

(c) In a suit described by Subsection (a), the person filing the suit must execute and attach an affidavit on knowledge or belief that contains, along with supporting facts, the allegation that denial of possession of or access to the child by the petitioner would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well-being. The court shall deny the relief sought and dismiss the suit unless the court determines that the facts stated in the affidavit, if true, would be sufficient to support the relief authorized under Section 153.433.

§ 153.433. POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO GRANDCHILD.

(a) The court may order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent if:

(1) at the time the relief is requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child has not had that parent's parental rights terminated;

(2) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child overcomes the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent's child by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well-being; and

(3) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child is a parent of a parent of the child and that parent of the child:

(A) has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;

(B) has been found by a court to be incompetent;

(C) is dead; or

(D) does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.

(b) An order granting possession of or access to a child by a grandparent that is rendered over a parent's objections must state, with specificity that:

(1) at the time the relief was requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child had not had that parent's parental rights terminated;

(2) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child has overcome the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent's child by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional well-being; and

(3) the grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child is a parent of a parent of the child and that parent of the child:

(A) has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;

(B) has been found by a court to be incompetent;

(C) is dead; or

(D) does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.

§ 153.434. LIMITATION ON RIGHT TO REQUEST POSSESSION OR ACCESS.

A biological or adoptive grandparent may not request possession of or access to a grandchild if:

(1) each of the biological parents of the grandchild has:

(A) died;

(B) had the person's parental rights terminated; or

(C) executed an affidavit of waiver of interest in child or an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights under Chapter 161 and the affidavit designates the Department of Family and Protective Services, a licensed child-placing agency, or a person other than the child's stepparent as the managing conservator of the child; and

(2) the grandchild has been adopted, or is the subject of a pending suit for adoption, by a person other than the child's stepparent.

PREVENTION OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION

§ 153.501. NECESSITY OF MEASURES TO PREVENT INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION.

(a) In a suit, if credible evidence is presented to the court indicating a potential risk of the international abduction of a child by a parent of the child, the court, on its own motion or at the request of a party to the suit, shall determine under this section whether it is necessary for the court to take one or more of the measures described by Section 153.503 to protect the child from the risk of abduction by the parent.

(b) In determining whether to take any of the measures described by Section 153.503, the court shall consider:

(1) the public policies of this state described by Section 153.001(a) and the consideration of the best interest of the child under Section 153.002;

(2) the risk of international abduction of the child by a parent of the child based on the court's evaluation of the risk factors described by Section 153.502;

(3) any obstacles to locating, recovering, and returning the child if the child is abducted to a foreign country; and

(4) the potential physical or psychological harm to the child if the child is abducted to a foreign country.

§ 153.502. ABDUCTION RISK FACTORS.

(a) To determine whether there is a risk of the international abduction of a child by a parent of the child, the court shall consider evidence that the parent:

(1) has taken, enticed away, kept, withheld, or concealed a child in violation of another person's right of possession of or access to the child, unless the parent presents evidence that the parent believed in good faith that the parent's conduct was necessary to avoid imminent harm to the child or the parent;

(2) has previously threatened to take, entice away, keep, withhold, or conceal a child in violation of another person's right of possession of or access to the child;

(3) lacks financial reason to stay in the United States, including evidence that the parent is financially independent, is able to work outside of the United States, or is unemployed;

(4) has recently engaged in planning activities that could facilitate the removal of the child from the United States by the parent, including:

(A) quitting a job;

(B) selling a primary residence;

(C) terminating a lease;

(D) closing bank accounts;

(E) liquidating other assets;

(F) hiding or destroying documents;

(G) applying for a passport or visa or obtaining other travel documents for the parent or the child; or

(H) applying to obtain the child's birth certificate or school or medical records;

(5) has a history of domestic violence that the court is required to consider under Section 153.004; or

(6) has a criminal history or a history of violating court orders.

(a-1) In considering evidence of planning activities under Subsection (a)(4), the court also shall consider any evidence that the parent was engaging in those activities as a part of a safety plan to flee from family violence.

(b) If the court finds that there is credible evidence of a risk of abduction of the child by a parent of the child based on the court's consideration of the factors in Subsection (a), the court shall also consider evidence regarding the following factors to evaluate the risk of international abduction of the child by a parent:

(1) whether the parent has strong familial, emotional, or cultural ties to another country, particularly a country that is not a signatory to or compliant with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction; and

(2) whether the parent lacks strong ties to the United States, regardless of whether the parent is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

(c) If the court finds that there is credible evidence of a risk of abduction of the child by a parent of the child based on the court's consideration of the factors in Subsection (a), the court may also consider evidence regarding the following factors to evaluate the risk of international abduction of the child by a parent:

(1) whether the parent is undergoing a change in status with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service that would adversely affect that parent's ability to legally remain in the United States;

(2) whether the parent's application for United States citizenship has been denied by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service;

(3) whether the parent has forged or presented misleading or false evidence to obtain a visa, a passport, a social security card, or any other identification card or has made any misrepresentation to the United States government; or

(4) whether the foreign country to which the parent has ties:

(A) presents obstacles to the recovery and return of a child who is abducted to the country from the United States;

(B) has any legal mechanisms for immediately and effectively enforcing an order regarding the possession of or access to the child issued by this state;

(C) has local laws or practices that would:

(i) enable the parent to prevent the child's other parent from contacting the child without due cause;

(ii) restrict the child's other parent from freely traveling to or exiting from the country because of that parent's gender, nationality, or religion; or

(iii) restrict the child's ability to legally leave the country after the child reaches the age of majority because of the child's gender, nationality, or religion;

(D) is included by the United States Department of State on a list of state sponsors of terrorism;

(E) is a country for which the United States Department of State has issued a travel warning to United States citizens regarding travel to the country;

(F) has an embassy of the United States in the country;

(G) is engaged in any active military action or war, including a civil war;

(H) is a party to and compliant with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction according to the most recent report on compliance issued by the United States Department of State;

(I) provides for the extradition of a parental abductor and the return of the child to the United States; or

(J) poses a risk that the child's physical health or safety would be endangered in the country because of specific circumstances relating to the child or because of human rights violations committed against children, including arranged marriages, lack of freedom of religion, child labor, lack of child abuse laws, female genital mutilation, and any form of slavery.

§ 153.503. ABDUCTION PREVENTION MEASURES.

If the court finds that it is necessary under Section 153.501 to take measures to protect a child from international abduction by a parent of the child, the court may take any of the following actions:

(1) appoint a person other than the parent of the child who presents a risk of abducting the child as the sole managing conservator of the child;

(2) require supervised visitation of the parent by a visitation center or independent organization until the court finds under Section 153.501 that supervised visitation is no longer necessary;

(3) enjoin the parent or any person acting on the parent's behalf from:

(A) disrupting or removing the child from the school or child-care facility in which the child is enrolled; or

(B) approaching the child at any location other than a site designated for supervised visitation;

(4) order passport and travel controls, including controls that:

(A) prohibit the parent and any person acting on the parent's behalf from removing the child from this state or the United States;

(B) require the parent to surrender any passport issued in the child's name, including any passport issued in the name of both the parent and the child; and

(C) prohibit the parent from applying on behalf of the child for a new or replacement passport or international travel visa;

(5) require the parent to provide:

(A) to the United States Department of State's Office of Children's Issues and the relevant foreign consulate or embassy:

(i) written notice of the court-ordered passport and travel restrictions for the child; and

(ii) a properly authenticated copy of the court order detailing the restrictions and documentation of the parent's agreement to the restrictions; and

(B) to the court proof of receipt of the written notice required by Paragraph (A)(i) by the United States Department of State's Office of Children's Issues and the relevant foreign consulate or embassy;

(6) order the parent to execute a bond or deposit security in an amount sufficient to offset the cost of recovering the child if the child is abducted by the parent to a foreign country;

(7) authorize the appropriate law enforcement agencies to take measures to prevent the abduction of the child by the parent; or

(8) include in the court's order provisions:

(A) identifying the United States as the country of habitual residence of the child;

(B) defining the basis for the court's exercise of jurisdiction; and

(C) stating that a party's violation of the order may subject the party to a civil penalty or criminal penalty or to both civil and criminal penalties.

RIGHTS OF SIBLINGS

§ 153.551. SUIT FOR ACCESS.

(a) The sibling of a child who is separated from the child because of an action taken by the Department of Family and Protective Services may request access to the child by filing:

(1) an original suit; or

(2) a suit for modification as provided by Chapter 156.

(b) A sibling described by Subsection (a) may request access to the child in a suit filed for the sole purpose of requesting the relief, without regard to whether the appointment of a managing conservator is an issue in the suit.

(c) The court shall order reasonable access to the child by the child's sibling described by Subsection (a) if the court finds that access is in the best interest of the child.

PARENTING PLAN, PARENTING COORDINATOR, AND PARENTING FACILITATOR

§ 153.601. DEFINITIONS.

In this subchapter:

(1) "Dispute resolution process" means:

(A) a process of alternative dispute resolution conducted in accordance with Section 153.0071 of this chapter and Chapter 154, Civil Practice and Remedies Code; or

(B) any other method of voluntary dispute resolution.

(2) "High-conflict case" means a suit affecting the parent-child relationship in which the court finds that the parties have demonstrated an unusual degree of:

(A) repetitiously resorting to the adjudicative process;

(B) anger and distrust; and

(C) difficulty in communicating about and cooperating in the care of their children.

(3) "Parenting coordinator" means an impartial third party:

(A) who, regardless of the title by which the person is designated by the court, performs any function described by Section 153.606 in a suit; and

(B) who:

(i) is appointed under this subchapter by the court on its own motion or on a motion or agreement of the parties to assist parties in resolving parenting issues through confidential procedures; and

(ii) is not appointed under another statute or a rule of civil procedure.

(3-a) "Parenting facilitator" means an impartial third party:

(A) who, regardless of the title by which the person is designated by the court, performs any function described by Section 153.6061 in a suit; and

(B) who:

(i) is appointed under this subchapter by the court on its own motion or on a motion or agreement of the parties to assist parties in resolving parenting issues through procedures that are not confidential; and

(ii) is not appointed under another statute or a rule of civil procedure.

(4) "Parenting plan" means the provisions of a final court order that:

(A) set out rights and duties of a parent or a person acting as a parent in relation to the child;

(B) provide for periods of possession of and access to the child, which may be the terms set out in the standard possession order under Subchapter F and any amendments to the standard possession order agreed to by the parties or found by the court to be in the best interest of the child;

(C) provide for child support; and

(D) optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and the child.

§ 153.602. PARENTING PLAN NOT REQUIRED IN TEMPORARY ORDER.

A temporary order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship rendered in accordance with Section 105.001 is not required to include a temporary parenting plan. The court may not require the submission of a temporary parenting plan in any case or by local rule or practice.

§ 153.603. REQUIREMENT OF PARENTING PLAN IN FINAL ORDER.

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a final order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship must include a parenting plan.

(b) The following orders are not required to include a parenting plan:

(1) an order that only modifies child support;

(2) an order that only terminates parental rights; or

(3) a final order described by Section 155.001(b).

(c) If the parties have not reached agreement on a final parenting plan on or before the 30th day before the date set for trial on the merits, a party may file with the court and serve a proposed parenting plan.

(d) This section does not preclude the parties from requesting the appointment of a parenting coordinator to resolve parental conflicts.

§ 153.6031. EXCEPTION TO DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS REQUIREMENT.

A requirement in a parenting plan that a party initiate or participate in a dispute resolution process before filing a court action does not apply to an action:

(1) to modify the parenting plan in an emergency;

(2) to modify child support;

(3) alleging that the child's present circumstances will significantly impair the child's physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development;

(4) to enforce; or

(5) in which the party shows that enforcement of the requirement is precluded or limited by Section 153.0071.

§ 153.605. APPOINTMENT OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

(a) In a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, the court may, on its own motion or on a motion or agreement of the parties, appoint a parenting coordinator or assign a domestic relations office under Chapter 203 to appoint an employee or other person to serve as parenting coordinator.

(b) The court may not appoint a parenting coordinator unless, after notice and hearing, the court makes a specific finding that:

(1) the case is a high-conflict case or there is good cause shown for the appointment of a parenting coordinator and the appointment is in the best interest of any minor child in the suit; and

(2) the person appointed has the minimum qualifications required by Section 153.610, as documented by the person, unless those requirements have been waived by the court with the agreement of the parties in accordance with Section 153.610(c).

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, a party may at any time file a written objection to the appointment of a parenting coordinator on the basis of family violence having been committed by another party against the objecting party or a child who is the subject of the suit. After an objection is filed, a parenting coordinator may not be appointed unless, on the request of a party, a hearing is held and the court finds that a preponderance of the evidence does not support the objection. If a parenting coordinator is appointed, the court shall order appropriate measures be taken to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the party who filed the objection. The order may provide that the parties not be required to have face-to-face contact and that the parties be placed in separate rooms during the parenting coordination.

(d) An individual appointed as a parenting coordinator may not serve in any nonconfidential capacity in the same case, including serving as an amicus attorney, guardian ad litem, child custody evaluator, or adoption evaluator under Chapter 107, as a friend of the court under Chapter 202, or as a parenting facilitator under this subchapter.

§ 153.6051. APPOINTMENT OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

(a) In a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, the court may, on its own motion or on a motion or agreement of the parties, appoint a parenting facilitator or assign a domestic relations office under Chapter 203 to appoint an employee or other person as a parenting facilitator.

(b) The court may not appoint a parenting facilitator unless, after notice and hearing, the court makes a specific finding that:

(1) the case is a high-conflict case or there is good cause shown for the appointment of a parenting facilitator and the appointment is in the best interest of any minor child in the suit; and

(2) the person appointed has the minimum qualifications required by Section 153.6101, as documented by the person.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, a party may at any time file a written objection to the appointment of a parenting facilitator on the basis of family violence having been committed by another party against the objecting party or a child who is the subject of the suit. After an objection is filed, a parenting facilitator may not be appointed unless, on the request of a party, a hearing is held and the court finds that a preponderance of the evidence does not support the objection. If a parenting facilitator is appointed, the court shall order appropriate measures be taken to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the party who filed the objection. The order may provide that the parties not be required to have face-to-face contact and that the parties be placed in separate rooms during the parenting facilitation.

§ 153.606. DUTIES OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

(a) The court shall specify the duties of a parenting coordinator in the order appointing the parenting coordinator. The duties of the parenting coordinator are limited to matters that will aid the parties in:

(1) identifying disputed issues;

(2) reducing misunderstandings;

(3) clarifying priorities;

(4) exploring possibilities for problem solving;

(5) developing methods of collaboration in parenting;

(6) understanding parenting plans and reaching agreements about parenting issues to be included in a parenting plan;

(7) complying with the court's order regarding conservatorship or possession of and access to the child;

(8) implementing parenting plans;

(9) obtaining training regarding problem solving, conflict management, and parenting skills; and

(10) settling disputes regarding parenting issues and reaching a proposed joint resolution or statement of intent regarding those disputes.

(b) The appointment of a parenting coordinator does not divest the court of:

(1) its exclusive jurisdiction to determine issues of conservatorship, support, and possession of and access to the child; and

(2) the authority to exercise management and control of the suit.

(c) The parenting coordinator may not modify any order, judgment, or decree.

(d) Meetings between the parenting coordinator and the parties may be informal and are not required to follow any specific procedures unless otherwise provided by this subchapter.

(e) Repealed 

(f) A parenting coordinator appointed under this subchapter shall comply with the Ethical Guidelines for Mediators as adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas (Misc. Docket No. 05-9107, June 13, 2005). On request by the court, the parties, or the parties' attorneys, the parenting coordinator shall sign a statement of agreement to comply with those guidelines and submit the statement to the court on acceptance of the appointment. A failure to comply with the guidelines is grounds for removal of the parenting coordinator.

§ 153.6061. DUTIES OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

(a) The court shall specify the duties of a parenting facilitator in the order appointing the parenting facilitator. The duties of the parenting facilitator are limited to those matters described with regard to a parenting coordinator under Section 153.606(a), except that the parenting facilitator may also monitor compliance with court orders.

(b) A parenting facilitator appointed under this subchapter shall comply with the standard of care applicable to the professional license held by the parenting facilitator in performing the parenting facilitator's duties.

(c) The appointment of a parenting facilitator does not divest the court of:

(1) the exclusive jurisdiction to determine issues of conservatorship, support, and possession of and access to the child; and

(2) the authority to exercise management and control of the suit.

(d) The parenting facilitator may not modify any order, judgment, or decree.

(e) Meetings between the parenting facilitator and the parties may be informal and are not required to follow any specific procedures unless otherwise provided by this subchapter or the standards of practice of the professional license held by the parenting facilitator.

§ 153.607. PRESUMPTION OF GOOD FAITH; REMOVAL OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

(a) It is a rebuttable presumption that a parenting coordinator is acting in good faith if the parenting coordinator's services have been conducted as provided by this subchapter and the Ethical Guidelines for Mediators described by Section 153.606(f).

(a-1) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the court may remove the parenting coordinator in the court's discretion.

(b) The court shall remove the parenting coordinator:

(1) on the request and agreement of all parties;

(2) on the request of the parenting coordinator;

(3) on the motion of a party, if good cause is shown; or

(4) if the parenting coordinator ceases to satisfy the minimum qualifications required by Section 153.610.

§ 153.6071. PRESUMPTION OF GOOD FAITH; REMOVAL OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

(a) It is a rebuttable presumption that a parenting facilitator is acting in good faith if the parenting facilitator's services have been conducted as provided by this subchapter and the standard of care applicable to the professional license held by the parenting facilitator.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the court may remove the parenting facilitator in the court's discretion.

(c) The court shall remove the parenting facilitator:

(1) on the request and agreement of all parties;

(2) on the request of the parenting facilitator;

(3) on the motion of a party, if good cause is shown; or

(4) if the parenting facilitator ceases to satisfy the minimum qualifications required by Section 153.6101.

§ 153.608. REPORT OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

A parenting coordinator shall submit a written report to the court and to the parties as often as ordered by the court. The report must be limited to a statement of whether the parenting coordination should continue.

§ 153.6081. REPORT OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

A parenting facilitator shall submit a written report to the court and to the parties as ordered by the court. The report may include a recommendation described by Section 153.6082(e) and any other information required by the court, except that the report may not include recommendations regarding the conservatorship of or the possession of or access to the child who is the subject of the suit.

§ 153.6082. REPORT OF JOINT PROPOSAL OR STATEMENT OF INTENT; AGREEMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

(a) If the parties have been ordered by the court to attempt to settle parenting issues with the assistance of a parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator and to attempt to reach a proposed joint resolution or statement of intent regarding the dispute, the parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator, as applicable, shall submit a written report describing the parties' joint proposal or statement to the parties, any attorneys for the parties, and any attorney for the child who is the subject of the suit.

(b) The proposed joint resolution or statement of intent is not an agreement unless the resolution or statement is:

(1) prepared by the parties' attorneys, if any, in a form that meets the applicable requirements of:

(A) Rule 11, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure;

(B) a mediated settlement agreement described by Section 153.0071;

(C) a collaborative law agreement described by Section 153.0072;

(D) a settlement agreement described by Section 154.071, Civil Practice and Remedies Code; or

(E) a proposed court order; and

(2) incorporated into an order signed by the court.

(c) A parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator may not draft a document listed in Subsection (b)(1).

(d) The actions of a parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator under this section do not constitute the practice of law.

(e) If the parties have been ordered by the court to attempt to settle parenting issues with the assistance of a parenting facilitator and are unable to settle those issues, the parenting facilitator may make recommendations, other than recommendations regarding the conservatorship of or possession of or access to the child, to the parties and attorneys to implement or clarify provisions of an existing court order that are consistent with the substantive intent of the court order and in the best interest of the child who is the subject of the suit. A recommendation authorized by this subsection does not affect the terms of an existing court order.

§ 153.6083. COMMUNICATIONS AND RECORDKEEPING OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

(a) Notwithstanding any rule, standard of care, or privilege applicable to the professional license held by a parenting facilitator, a communication made by a participant in parenting facilitation is subject to disclosure and may be offered in any judicial or administrative proceeding, if otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence. The parenting facilitator may be required to testify in any proceeding relating to or arising from the duties of the parenting facilitator, including as to the basis for any recommendation made to the parties that arises from the duties of the parenting facilitator.

(b) A parenting facilitator shall keep a detailed record regarding meetings and contacts with the parties, attorneys, or other persons involved in the suit.

(c) A person who participates in parenting facilitation is not a patient as defined by Section 611.001, Health and Safety Code, and no record created as part of the parenting facilitation that arises from the parenting facilitator's duties is confidential.

(d) On request, records of parenting facilitation shall be made available by the parenting facilitator to an attorney for a party, an attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and a party who does not have an attorney.

(e) A parenting facilitator shall keep parenting facilitation records from the suit until the seventh anniversary of the date the facilitator's services are terminated, unless a different retention period is established by a rule adopted by the licensing authority that issues the professional license held by the parenting facilitator.

§ 153.609. COMPENSATION OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

(a) A court may not appoint a parenting coordinator, other than a domestic relations office or a comparable county agency appointed under Subsection (c) or a volunteer appointed under Subsection (d), unless, after notice and hearing, the court finds that the parties have the means to pay the fees of the parenting coordinator.

(b) Any fees of a parenting coordinator appointed under Subsection (a) shall be allocated between the parties as determined by the court.

(c) Public funds may not be used to pay the fees of a parenting coordinator. Notwithstanding this prohibition, a court may appoint the domestic relations office or a comparable county agency to act as a parenting coordinator if personnel are available to serve that function.

(d) If due to hardship the parties are unable to pay the fees of a parenting coordinator, and a domestic relations office or a comparable county agency is not available under Subsection (c), the court, if feasible, may appoint a person who meets the minimum qualifications prescribed by Section 153.610, including an employee of the court, to act as a parenting coordinator on a volunteer basis and without compensation.

§ 153.6091. COMPENSATION OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

Section 153.609 applies to a parenting facilitator in the same manner as provided for a parenting coordinator, except that a person appointed in accordance with Section 153.609(d) to act as a parenting facilitator must meet the minimum qualifications prescribed by Section 153.6101.

§ 153.610. QUALIFICATIONS OF PARENTING COORDINATOR.

(a) The court shall determine the required qualifications of a parenting coordinator, provided that a parenting coordinator must have experience working in a field relating to families, have practical experience with high-conflict cases or litigation between parents, and:

(1) hold at least:

(A) a bachelor's degree in counseling, education, family studies, psychology, or social work; or

(B) a graduate degree in a mental health profession, with an emphasis in family and children's issues; or

(2) be licensed in good standing as an attorney in this state.

(b) In addition to the qualifications prescribed by Subsection (a), a parenting coordinator must complete at least:

(1) eight hours of family violence dynamics training provided by a family violence service provider;

(2) 40 classroom hours of training in dispute resolution techniques in a course conducted by an alternative dispute resolution system or other dispute resolution organization approved by the court; and

(3) 24 classroom hours of training in the fields of family dynamics, child development, family law and the law governing parenting coordination, and parenting coordination styles and procedures.

(c) In appropriate circumstances, a court may, with the agreement of the parties, appoint a person as parenting coordinator who does not satisfy the requirements of Subsection (a) or Subsection (b)(2) or (3) if the court finds that the person has sufficient legal or other professional training or experience in dispute resolution processes to serve in that capacity.

(d) The actions of a parenting coordinator who is not an attorney do not constitute the practice of law.

§ 153.6101. QUALIFICATIONS OF PARENTING FACILITATOR.

(a) The court shall determine whether the qualifications of a proposed parenting facilitator satisfy the requirements of this section. On request by a party, an attorney for a party, or any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, a person under consideration for appointment as a parenting facilitator in the suit shall provide proof that the person satisfies the minimum qualifications required by this section.

(b) A parenting facilitator must:

(1) hold a license to practice in this state as a social worker, licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or attorney; and

(2) have completed at least:

(A) eight hours of family violence dynamics training provided by a family violence service provider;

(B) 40 classroom hours of training in dispute resolution techniques in a course conducted by an alternative dispute resolution system or other dispute resolution organization approved by the court;

(C) 24 classroom hours of training in the fields of family dynamics, child development, and family law; and

(D) 16 hours of training in the laws governing parenting coordination and parenting facilitation and the multiple styles and procedures used in different models of service.

(c) The actions of a parenting facilitator who is not an attorney do not constitute the practice of law.

§ 153.6102. PARENTING FACILITATOR; CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND BIAS.

(a) A person who has a conflict of interest with, or has previous knowledge of, a party or a child who is the subject of a suit must, before being appointed as parenting facilitator in a suit:

(1) disclose the conflict or previous knowledge to the court, each attorney for a party, any attorney for a child, and any party who does not have an attorney; and

(2) decline appointment in the suit unless, after the disclosure, the parties and the child's attorney, if any, agree in writing to the person's appointment as parenting facilitator.

(b) A parenting facilitator who, after being appointed in a suit, discovers that the parenting facilitator has a conflict of interest with, or has previous knowledge of, a party or a child who is the subject of the suit shall:

(1) immediately disclose the conflict or previous knowledge to the court, each attorney for a party, any attorney for a child, and any party who does not have an attorney; and

(2) withdraw from the suit unless, after the disclosure, the parties and the child's attorney, if any, agree in writing to the person's continuation as parenting facilitator.

(c) A parenting facilitator, before accepting appointment in a suit, must disclose to the court, each attorney for a party, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party who does not have an attorney:

(1) a pecuniary relationship with an attorney, party, or child in the suit;

(2) a relationship of confidence or trust with an attorney, party, or child in the suit; and

(3) other information regarding any relationship with an attorney, party, or child in the suit that might reasonably affect the ability of the person to act impartially during the person's service as parenting facilitator.

(d) A person who makes a disclosure required by Subsection (c) shall decline appointment as parenting facilitator unless, after the disclosure, the parties and the child's attorney, if any, agree in writing to the person's service as parenting facilitator in the suit.

(e) A parenting facilitator may not serve in any other professional capacity at any other time with any person who is a party to, or the subject of, the suit in which the person serves as parenting facilitator, or with any member of the family of a party or subject. A person who, before appointment as a parenting facilitator in a suit, served in any other professional capacity with a person who is a party to, or subject of, the suit, or with any member of the family of a party or subject, may not serve as parenting facilitator in a suit involving any family member who is a party to or subject of the suit. This subsection does not apply to a person whose only other service in a professional capacity with a family or any member of a family that is a party to or the subject of a suit to which this section applies is as a teacher of coparenting skills in a class conducted in a group setting. For purposes of this subsection, "family" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003.

(f) A parenting facilitator shall promptly and simultaneously disclose to each party's attorney, any attorney for a child who is a subject of the suit, and any party who does not have an attorney the existence and substance of any communication between the parenting facilitator and another person, including a party, a party's attorney, a child who is the subject of the suit, and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, if the communication occurred outside of a parenting facilitator session and involved the substance of parenting facilitation.

§ 153.611. EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN TITLE IV-D PROCEEDINGS.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, this subchapter does not apply to a proceeding in a Title IV-D case relating to the determination of parentage or establishment, modification, or enforcement of a child support, medical support, (effective September 1, 2018 ", or dental support" will be inserted) obligation.

MILITARY DUTY

§ 153.701. DEFINITIONS.

In this subchapter:

(1) "Designated person" means the person ordered by the court to temporarily exercise a conservator's rights, duties, and periods of possession and access with regard to a child during the conservator's military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

(2) "Military deployment" means the temporary transfer of a service member of the armed forces of this state or the United States serving in an active-duty status to another location in support of combat or some other military operation.

(3) "Military mobilization" means the call-up of a National Guard or Reserve service member of the armed forces of this state or the United States to extended active duty status. The term does not include National Guard or Reserve annual training.

(4) "Temporary military duty" means the transfer of a service member of the armed forces of this state or the United States from one military base to a different location, usually another base, for a limited time for training or to assist in the performance of a noncombat mission.

§ 153.702. TEMPORARY ORDERS.

(a) If a conservator is ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty that involves moving a substantial distance from the conservator's residence so as to materially affect the conservator's ability to exercise the conservator's rights and duties in relation to a child, either conservator may file for an order under this subchapter without the necessity of showing a material and substantial change of circumstances other than the military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

(b) The court may render a temporary order in a proceeding under this subchapter regarding:

(1) possession of or access to the child; or

(2) child support.

(c) A temporary order rendered by the court under this subchapter may grant rights to and impose duties on a designated person regarding the child, except that if the designated person is a nonparent, the court may not require the designated person to pay child support.

(d) After a conservator's military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty is concluded, and the conservator returns to the conservator's usual residence, the temporary orders under this section terminate and the rights of all affected parties are governed by the terms of any court order applicable when the conservator is not ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

§ 153.703. APPOINTING DESIGNATED PERSON FOR CONSERVATOR WITH EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO DESIGNATE PRIMARY RESIDENCE OF CHILD.

(a) If the conservator with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, the court may render a temporary order to appoint a designated person to exercise the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child during the military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty in the following order of preference:

(1) the conservator who does not have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child;

(2) if appointing the conservator described by Subdivision (1) is not in the child's best interest, a designated person chosen by the conservator with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or

(3) if appointing the conservator described by Subdivision (1) or the person chosen under Subdivision (2) is not in the child's best interest, another person chosen by the court.

(b) A nonparent appointed as a designated person in a temporary order rendered under this section has the rights and duties of a nonparent appointed as sole managing conservator under Section 153.371.

(c) The court may limit or expand the rights of a nonparent named as a designated person in a temporary order rendered under this section as appropriate to the best interest of the child.

§ 153.704. APPOINTING DESIGNATED PERSON TO EXERCISE VISITATION FOR CONSERVATOR WITH EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO DESIGNATE PRIMARY RESIDENCE OF CHILD IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.

(a) If the court appoints the conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child under Section 153.703(a)(1), the court may award visitation with the child to a designated person chosen by the conservator with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child.

(b) The periods of visitation shall be the same as the visitation to which the conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child was entitled under the court order in effect immediately before the date the temporary order is rendered.

(c) The temporary order for visitation must provide that:

(1) the designated person under this section has the right to possession of the child for the periods and in the manner in which the conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is entitled under the court order in effect immediately before the date the temporary order is rendered;

(2) the child's other conservator and the designated person under this section are subject to the requirements of Section 153.316, with the designated person considered for purposes of that section to be the possessory conservator;

(3) the designated person under this section has the rights and duties of a nonparent possessory conservator under Section 153.376(a) during the period that the person has possession of the child; and

(4) the designated person under this section is subject to any provision in a court order restricting or prohibiting access to the child by any specified individual.

(d) The court may limit or expand the rights of a nonparent designated person named in a temporary order rendered under this section as appropriate to the best interest of the child.

§ 153.705. APPOINTING DESIGNATED PERSON TO EXERCISE VISITATION FOR CONSERVATOR WITHOUT EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO DESIGNATE PRIMARY RESIDENCE OF CHILD.

(a) If the conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, the court may award visitation with the child to a designated person chosen by the conservator, if the visitation is in the best interest of the child.

(b) The temporary order for visitation must provide that:

(1) the designated person under this section has the right to possession of the child for the periods and in the manner in which the conservator described by Subsection (a) would be entitled if not ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty;

(2) the child's other conservator and the designated person under this section are subject to the requirements of Section 153.316, with the designated person considered for purposes of that section to be the possessory conservator;

(3) the designated person under this section has the rights and duties of a nonparent possessory conservator under Section 153.376(a) during the period that the designated person has possession of the child; and

(4) the designated person under this section is subject to any provision in a court order restricting or prohibiting access to the child by any specified individual.

(c) The court may limit or expand the rights of a nonparent designated person named in a temporary order rendered under this section as appropriate to the best interest of the child.

§ 153.707. EXPEDITED HEARING.

(a) On a motion by the conservator who has been ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, the court shall, for good cause shown, hold an expedited hearing if the court finds that the conservator's military duties have a material effect on the conservator's ability to appear in person at a regularly scheduled hearing.

(b) A hearing under this section shall, if possible, take precedence over other suits affecting the parent-child relationship not involving a conservator who has been ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

(c) On a motion by any party, the court shall, after reasonable advance notice and for good cause shown, allow a party to present testimony and evidence by electronic means, including by teleconference or through the Internet.

§ 153.708. ENFORCEMENT

Temporary orders rendered under this subchapter may be enforced by or against the designated person to the same extent that an order would be enforceable against the conservator who has been ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

§ 153.709. ADDITIONAL PERIODS OF POSSESSION OR ACCESS.

(a) Not later than the 90th day after the date a conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child who is a member of the armed services concludes the conservator's military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, the conservator may petition the court to:

(1) compute the periods of possession of or access to the child to which the conservator would have otherwise been entitled during the conservator's deployment; and

(2) award the conservator additional periods of possession of or access to the child to compensate for the periods described by Subdivision (1).

(b) If the conservator described by Subsection (a) petitions the court under Subsection (a), the court:

(1) shall compute the periods of possession or access to the child described by Subsection (a)(1); and

(2) may award to the conservator additional periods of possession of or access to the child for a length of time and under terms the court considers reasonable, if the court determines that:

(A) the conservator was on military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty in a location where access to the child was not reasonably possible; and

(B) the award of additional periods of possession of or access to the child is in the best interest of the child.

(c) In making the determination under Subsection (b)(2), the court:

(1) shall consider:

(A) the periods of possession of or access to the child to which the conservator would otherwise have been entitled during the conservator's military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, as computed under Subsection (b)(1);

(B) whether the court named a designated person under Section 153.705 to exercise limited possession of the child during the conservator's deployment; and

(C) any other factor the court considers appropriate; and

(2) is not required to award additional periods of possession of or access to the child that equals the possession or access to which the conservator would have been entitled during the conservator's military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, as computed under Subsection (b)(1).

(d) After the conservator described by Subsection (a) has exercised all additional periods of possession or access awarded under this section, the rights of all affected parties are governed by the terms of the court order applicable when the conservator is not ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty.

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