A. General Provisions

Subtitle A. General Provisions

Ch. 101. Definitions

101.001. Applicability of Definitions

101.0010. Acknowledged Father

101.0011. Administrative Writ of Withholding

101.0015. Alleged Father

101.0017. Amicus Attorney

101.0018. Attorney Ad Litem

101.003. Child or Minor; Adult

101.004. Child Support Agency

101.005. Child Support Review Officer

101.006. Child Support Services

101.007. Clear and Convincing Evidence

101.008. Court

101.009. Danger to Physical Health or Safety of Child

101.0096. Digitized Signature

101.010. Disposable Earnings

101.011. Earnings

101.012. Employer

101.0125. Family Violence

101.013. Filed

101.014. Governmental Entity

101.0145. Guardian Ad Litem

101.015. Health Insurance

101.016. Joint Managing Conservatorship

101.0161. Judicial Writ of Withholding

101.017. Licensed Child Placing Agency

101.018. Local Registry

101.019. Managing Conservatorship

101.020. Medical Support

101.0201. Notice of Application for Judicial Writ of Withholding

101.021. Obligee

101.022. Obligor

101.023. Order

101.024. Parent

101.025. Parent–Child Relationship

101.0255. Record

101.026. Render

101.027. Parent Locator Service

101.028. School

101.029. Standard Possession Order

101.030. State

101.0301. State Case Registry

101.0302. State Disbursement Unit

101.031. Suit

101.032. Suit Affecting the Parent–Child Relationship

101.033. Title IV–D Agency

101.034. Title IV–D Case

101.035. Tribunal

101.036. Vital Statistics Unit

Ch. 102. Filing Suit

102.001. Suit Authorized; Scope of Suit

102.002. Commencement of Suit

102.003. General Standing to File Suit

102.0035. Statement to Confer Standing

102.004. Standing for Grandparent or Other Person

102.0045. Standing for Sibling

102.005. Standing to Request Termination and Adoption

102.006. Limitations on Standing

102.007. Standing of Title IV–D Agency

102.008. Contents of Petition

102.0086. Confidentiality of Pleadings

102.009. Service of Citation

102.0091. Waiver of Citation

102.010. Service of Citation by Publication

102.011. Acquiring Jurisdiction over Nonresident

102.012. Exercising Partial Jurisdiction

102.013. Docketing Requirements

102.014. Use of Digitized Signature

Ch. 103. Venue and Transfer of Original Proceedings

103.001. Venue for Original Suit

103.002. Transfer of Original Proceedings Within State

103.003. Transfer of Original Suit Within State when Party or Child Resides Outside State

Ch. 104. Evidence

104.001. Rules of Evidence

104.002. Prerecorded Statement of Child

104.003. Prerecorded Videotaped Testimony of Child

104.004. Remote Televised Broadcast of Testimony of Child

104.005. Substitution for In–Court Testimony of Child

104.006. Hearsay Statement of Child Abuse Victim

104.007. Video Testimony of Certain Professionals

104.008. Certain Testimony Prohibited

Ch. 105. Settings, Hearings, and Orders

105.001. Temporary Orders Before Final Order

105.0011. Information Regarding Protective Orders

105.002. Jury

105.003. Procedure for Contested Hearing

105.004. Preferential Setting

105.005. Findings

105.006. Contents of Final Order

105.007. Compliance With Order Requiring Notice of Change of Required Information

105.008. Record of Support Order for State Case Registry

105.009. Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course

Ch. 106. Costs and Attorney's Fees

106.001. Costs

106.002. Attorney's Fees and Expenses

Ch. 107. Special Appointments, Child Custody Evaluations, and Adoption Evaluations

Subch. A. Court–Ordered Representation in Suits Affecting the Parent–Child Relationship

107.001. Definitions

107.002. Powers and Duties of Guardian Ad Litem for Child

107.003. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Child and Amicus Attorney

107.004. Additional Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Child

107.0045. Discipline of Attorney Ad Litem

107.005. Additional Duties of Amicus Attorney

107.006. Access to Child and Information Relating to Child

107.007. Attorney Work Product and Testimony

107.008. Substituted Judgment of Attorney for Child

107.009. Immunity

107.010. Discretionary Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Incapacitated Person

Subch. B. Appointments in Certain Suits

Part 1. Appointments in Suits By Governmental Entity

107.011. Mandatory Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

107.012. Mandatory Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Child

107.0125. Appointment of Attorney in Dual Role

107.013. Mandatory Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent

107.0131. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent

107.0132. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Alleged Father

107.0133. Discipline of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent or Alleged Father

107.014. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Certain Parents

107.0141. Temporary Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Certain Parents

107.015. Attorney Fees

107.016. Continued Representation; Duration of Appointment

107.0161. Ad Litem Appointments for Child Committed to Texas Youth Commission

107.017. Appointment of Amicus Attorney Prohibited

Part 2. Appointments in Suits Other than Suits by Governmental Entity

107.021. Discretionary Appointments

107.022. Certain Prohibited Appointments

107.023. Fees in Suits Other Than Suits by Governmental Entity

Subch. C. Appointment of Volunteer Advocates

107.031. Volunteer Advocates

Subch. D. Child Custody Evaluation

107.101. Definitions

107.102. Applicability

107.1025. Effect of Mental Examination

107.103. Order for Child Custody Evaluation

107.104. Child Custody Evaluator: Minimum Qualifications

107.105. Child Custody Evaluation: Specialized Training Required

107.106. Exception to Qualifications Required to Conduct Child Custody Evaluation

107.107. Child Custody Evaluator: Conflicts of Interest and Bias

107.108. General Provisions Applicable to Conduct of Child Custody Evaluation and Preparation of Report

107.109. Elements of Child Custody Evaluation

107.110. Psychometric Testing

107.1101. Effect of Potentially Undiagnosed Serious Mental Illness

107.111. Child Custody Evaluator Access to Investigative Records of Department; Offense

107.112. Communications and Recordkeeping of Child Custody Evaluator

107.113. Child Custody Evaluation Report Required

107.114. Introduction and Provision of Child Custody Evaluation Report

107.115. Child Custody Evaluation Fee

[First] Subch. E. Office of Child Representation and Office of Parent Representation

107.61. Definition

107.62. Applicability

107.63. Nonprofit Funding

107.64. Office of Child Representation

107.65. Office of Parent Representation

107.66. Creation of Office of Child Representation or Office of Parent Representation

107.67. Nonprofit as Office

107.68. Plan of Operation for Office

107.69. Office Personnel

107.70. Appointments in County in Which Office Created

107.71. Funding of Office

107.72. Oversight Board

[Second] Subch. E. Adoption Evaluation

107.151. Definitions

107.152. Applicability

107.153. Order for Adoption Evaluation

107.154. Adoption Evaluation; Minimum Qualifications

107.155. Exception to Qualifications Required to Conduct Adoption Evaluation

107.156. Adoption Evaluator: Conflicts of Interest and Bias

107.157. Reporting Certain Placements for Adoption

107.158. General Provisions Applicable to Conduct of Adoption Evaluator and Preparation of Reports

107.159. Requirements for Pre–Placement Portion of Adoption Evaluation and Report

107.160. Requirements for Post–Placement Portion of Adoption Evaluation and Report

107.161. Introduction and Provision of Adoption Evaluation Report and Testimony Relating to Adoption Evaluation

107.162. Adoption Evaluation Fee

107.163. Adoption Evaluator Access to Investigative Records of Department; Offense

[First] Subch. F. Managed Assigned Counsel Program for the Representation of Certain Children and Parents

107.101. Definitions

107.102. Managed Assigned Counsel Program

107.103. Creation of Managed Assigned Counsel Program

107.104. Plan for Program Required

107.105. Program Director; Personnel

107.106. Review Committee

107.107. Appointment from Program's Public Appointment List

107.108. Funding of Program

[Second] Subch. F. Evaluations in Contested Adoptions

107.201. Applicability

107.202. Assignment of Evaluations in Contested Adoptions

Ch. 108. Central Record File; Vital Statistics

108.001. Transmittal of Records of Suit by Clerk

108.002. Dissolution of Marriage Records Maintained by Clerk

108.003. Transmittal of Information Regarding Adoption

108.004. Transmittal of Files on Loss of Jurisdiction

108.005. Adoption Records Received by Bureau of Vital Statistics

108.006. Fees

108.007. Microfilm

108.008. Filing Information After Determination of Paternity

108.009. Birth Certificate

108.110. Release of Information by Bureau of Vital Statistics

Ch. 109. Appeals

109.001. Temporary Orders During Pendency of Appeal

109.002. Appeal

109.003. Payment for Statement of Facts

Ch. 110. Court Fees

110.001. General Rule

110.002. Filing Fees and Deposits

110.003. No Separate or Additional Filing Fee

110.004. Fee for Issuing and Delivering Withholding Order or Writ

110.005. Transfer Fee

110.006. Domestic Relations Office Operations Fees and Child Support Service Fees

Ch. 111. Guidelines for Possession and Child Support

111.001. Review of Guidelines

111.002. Guidelines Supersede Court Rules

111.003. Posting Guidelines

Subtitle A. General Provisions

Ch. 101. Definitions

Sec. 101.001. Applicability of Definitions.

(a) Definitions in this subchapter apply to this title.

(b) If, in another part of this title, a term defined by this chapter has a meaning different from the meaning provided by this chapter, the meaning of that other provision prevails.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0010. Acknowledged Father. "Acknowledged father" means a man who has established a father–child relationship under Chapter 160.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0011. Administrative Writ of Withholding. "Administrative writ of withholding" means the document issued by the Title IV–D agency or domestic relations office and delivered to an employer directing that earnings be withheld for payment of child support as provided by Chapter 158.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0015. Alleged Father.

(a) "Alleged father" means a man who alleges himself to be, or is alleged to be, the genetic father or a possible genetic father of a child, but whose paternity has not been determined.

(b) The term does not include:

(1) a presumed father;

(2) a man whose parental rights have been terminated or declared to not exist; or

(3) a male donor.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0017. Amicus Attorney. "Amicus attorney" has the meaning assigned by Section 107.001.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0018. Attorney Ad Litem. "Attorney ad litem" has the meaning assigned by Section 107.001.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.003. Child or Minor; Adult.

(a) "Child" or "minor" means a person under 18 years of age who is not and has not been married or who has not had the disabilities of minority removed for general purposes.

(b) In the context of child support, "child" includes a person over 18 years of age for whom a person may be obligated to pay child support.

(c) "Adult" means a person who is not a child.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.004. Child Support Agency. "Child support agency" means:

(1) the Title IV–D agency;

(2) a county or district attorney or any other county officer or county agency that executes a cooperative agreement with the Title IV–D agency to provide child support services under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.) and Chapter 231; or

(3) a domestic relations office.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.005. Child Support Review Officer. "Child support review officer" means an individual designated and trained by a child support agency to conduct reviews under this title.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.006. Child Support Services. "Child support services" means administrative or court actions to:

(1) establish paternity;

(2) establish, modify, or enforce child support or medical support obligations;

(3) locate absent parents; or

(4) cooperate with other states in these actions and any other action authorized or required under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.) or Chapter 231.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.007. Clear and Convincing Evidence. "Clear and convincing evidence" means the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.008. Court. "Court" means the district court, juvenile court having the same jurisdiction as a district court, or other court expressly given jurisdiction of a suit affecting the parent–child relationship.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.009. Danger to Physical Health or Safety of Child. "Danger to the physical health or safety of a child" includes exposure of the child to loss or injury that jeopardizes the physical health or safety of the child without regard to whether there has been an actual prior injury to the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.011. Earnings. "Earnings" means a payment to or due an individual, regardless of source and how denominated. The term includes a periodic or lump–sum payment for:

(1) wages, salary, compensation received as an independent contractor, overtime pay, severance pay, commission, bonus, and interest income;

(2) payments made under a pension, an annuity, workers' compensation, and a disability or retirement program; and

(3) unemployment benefits.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.012. Employer. "Employer" means a person, corporation, partnership, workers' compensation insurance carrier, governmental entity, the United States, or any other entity that pays or owes earnings to an individual. The term includes, for the purposes of enrolling dependents in a group health or dental insurance plan, a union, trade association, or other similar organization.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0125. Family Violence. "Family violence" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.013. Filed. "Filed" means officially filed with the clerk of the court.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0133. Foster Care. "Foster care" means the placement of a child who is in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services and in care outside the child's home in an agency foster group home, agency foster home, foster group home, foster home, or another facility licensed or certified under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code, in which care is provided for 24 hours a day.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0134. Foster Child. "Foster child" means a child who is in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.014. Governmental Entity. "Governmental entity" means the state, a political subdivision of the state, or an agency of the state.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0145. Guardian Ad Litem. "Guardian ad litem" has the meaning assigned by Section 107.001.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.015. Health Insurance. "Health insurance" means insurance coverage that provides basic health care services, including usual physician services, office visits, hospitalization, and laboratory, X–ray, and emergency services, that may be provided through a health maintenance organization or other private or public organization, other than medical assistance under Chapter 32, Human Resources Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.016. Joint Managing Conservatorship. "Joint managing conservatorship" means the sharing of the rights and duties of a parent by two parties, ordinarily the parents, even if the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one party.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0161. Judicial Writ of Withholding. "Judicial writ of withholding" means the document issued by the clerk of a court and delivered to an employer directing that earnings be withheld for payment of child support as provided by Chapter 158.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.017. Licensed Child Placing Agency. "Licensed child placing agency" means a person, including an organization or corporation, licensed or certified under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code, by the Department of Family and Protective Services to place a child in a child–care facility, agency foster home, agency foster group home, or adoptive home.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.018. Local Registry. "Local registry" means a county agency or public entity operated under the authority of a district clerk, county government, juvenile board, juvenile probation office, domestic relations office, or other county agency or public entity that serves a county or a court that has jurisdiction under this title and that:

(1) receives child support payments;

(2) maintains records of child support payments;

(3) distributes child support payments as required by law; and

(4) maintains custody of official child support payment records.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.019. Managing Conservatorship. "Managing conservatorship" means the relationship between a child and a managing conservator appointed by court order.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.020. Medical Support. "Medical support" means periodic payments or a lump–sum payment made under an order to cover medical expenses, including health insurance coverage, incurred for the benefit of a child.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0201. Notice of Application for Judicial Writ of Withholding. "Notice of application for judicial writ of withholding" means the document delivered to an obligor and filed with the court as required by Chapter 158 for the nonjudicial determination of arrears and initiation of withholding.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.021. Obligee. "Obligee" means a person or entity entitled to receive payments of child support, including an agency of this state or of another jurisdiction to which a person has assigned the person's right to support.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.022. Obligor. "Obligor" means a person required to make payments under the terms of a support order for a child.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.023. Order. "Order" means a final order unless identified as a temporary order or the context clearly requires a different meaning. The term includes a decree and a judgment.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.024. Parent.

(a) "Parent" means the mother, a man presumed to be the father, a man legally determined to be the father, a man who has been adjudicated to be the father by a court of competent jurisdiction, a man who has acknowledged his paternity under applicable law, or an adoptive mother or father. Except as provided by Subsection (b), the term does not include a parent as to whom the parent–child relationship has been terminated.

(b) For purposes of establishing, determining the terms of, modifying, or enforcing an order, a reference in this title to a parent includes a person ordered to pay child support under Section 154.001(a–1) or to provide medical support for a child.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.025. Parent–Child Relationship. "Parent–child relationship" means the legal relationship between a child and the child's parents as provided by Chapter 160. The term includes the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0255. Record. "Record" means information that is:

(1) inscribed on a tangible medium or stored in an electronic or other medium; and

(2) retrievable in a perceivable form.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.026. Render. "Render" means the pronouncement by a judge of the court's ruling on a matter. The pronouncement may be made orally in the presence of the court reporter or in writing, including on the court's docket sheet or by a separate written instrument.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.027. Parent Locator Service. "Parent locator service" means the service established under 42 U.S.C. Section 653.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.028. School. "School" means an elementary or secondary school in which a child is enrolled or, if the child is not enrolled in an elementary or secondary school, the public school district in which the child primarily resides. For purposes of this section, a reference to elementary school includes prekindergarten.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.029. Standard Possession Order. "Standard possession order" means an order that provides a parent with rights of possession of a child in accordance with the terms and conditions of Subchapter F, Chapter 153.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.030. State. "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The term includes an Indian tribe and a foreign jurisdiction that has established procedures for rendition and enforcement of an order that are substantially similar to the procedures of this title.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0301. State Case Registry. "State case registry" means the registry established and operated by the Title IV–D agency under 42 U.S.C. Section 654a that has responsibility for maintaining records with respect to child support orders in all Title IV–D cases and in all other cases in which a support order is rendered or modified under this title on or after October 1, 1998.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.0302. State Disbursement Unit. "State disbursement unit" means the unit established and operated by the Title IV–D agency under 42 U.S.C. Section 654b that has responsibility for receiving, distributing, maintaining, and furnishing child support payments and records on or after October 1, 1999.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.031. Suit. "Suit" means a legal action under this title.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.032. Suit Affecting the Parent–Child Relationship.

(a) "Suit affecting the parent–child relationship" means a suit filed as provided by this title in which the appointment of a managing conservator or a possessory conservator, access to or support of a child, or establishment or termination of the parent–child relationship is requested.

(b) The following are not suits affecting the parent–child relationship:

(1) a habeas corpus proceeding under Chapter 157;

(2) a proceeding filed under Chapter 159 to determine parentage or to establish, enforce, or modify child support, whether this state is acting as the initiating or responding state; and

(3) a proceeding under Title 2.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.033. Title IV–D Agency. "Title IV–D agency" means the state agency designated under Chapter 231 to provide services under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.).

[Contents]

Sec. 101.034. Title IV–D Case. "Title IV–D case" means an action in which services are provided by the Title IV–D agency under Part D, Title IV, of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.), relating to the location of an absent parent, determination of parentage, or establishment, modification, or enforcement of a child support or medical support obligation.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.035. Tribunal. "Tribunal" means a court, administrative agency, or quasi–judicial entity of a state authorized to establish, enforce, or modify support orders or to determine parentage.

[Contents]

Sec. 101.036. Vital Statistics Unit. "Vital statistics unit" means the vital statistics unit of the Department of State Health Services.

Ch. 102. Filing Suit

Sec. 102.001. Suit Authorized; Scope of Suit.

(a) A suit may be filed as provided in this title.

(b) One or more matters covered by this title may be determined in the suit. The court, on its own motion, may require the parties to replead in order that any issue affecting the parent–child relationship may be determined in the suit.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.002. Commencement of Suit. An original suit begins by the filing of a petition as provided by this chapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.003. General Standing to File Suit.

(a) An original suit may be filed at any time by:

(1) a parent of the child;

(2) the child through a representative authorized by the court;

(3) a custodian or person having the right of visitation with or access to the child appointed by an order of a court of another state or country;

(4) a guardian of the person or of the estate of the child;

(5) a governmental entity;

(6) the Department of Family and Protective Services;

(7) a licensed child placing agency;

(8) a man alleging himself to be the father of a child filing in accordance with Chapter 160, subject to the limitations of that chapter, but not otherwise;

(9) a person, other than a foster parent, who has had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition;

(10) a person designated as the managing conservator in a revoked or unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment under Chapter 161 or to whom consent to adoption has been given in writing under Chapter 162;

(11) a person with whom the child and the child's guardian, managing conservator, or parent have resided for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition if the child's guardian, managing conservator, or parent is deceased at the time of the filing of the petition;

(12) a person who is the foster parent of a child placed by the Department of Family and Protective Services in the person's home for at least 12 months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the petition;

(13) a person who is a relative of the child within the third degree by consanguinity, as determined by Chapter 573, Government Code, if the child's parents are deceased at the time of the filing of the petition; or

(14) a person who has been named as a prospective adoptive parent of a child by a pregnant woman or the parent of the child, in a verified written statement to confer standing executed under Section 102.0035, regardless of whether the child has been born.

(b) In computing the time necessary for standing under Subsections (a)(9), (11), and (12), the court may not require that the time be continuous and uninterrupted but shall consider the child's principal residence during the relevant time preceding the date of commencement of the suit.

(c) Notwithstanding the time requirements of Subsection (a)(12), a person who is the foster parent of a child may file a suit to adopt a child for whom the person is providing foster care at any time after the person has been approved to adopt the child. The standing to file suit under this subsection applies only to the adoption of a child who is eligible to be adopted.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.0035. Statement to Confer Standing.

(a) A pregnant woman or a parent of a child may execute a statement to confer standing to a prospective adoptive parent as provided by this section to assert standing under Section 102.003(a)(14). A statement to confer standing under this section may not be executed in a suit brought by a governmental entity under Chapter 262 or 263.

(b) A statement to confer standing must contain:

(1) the signature, name, age, and address of the person named as a prospective adoptive parent;

(2) the signature, name, age, and address of the pregnant woman or of the parent of the child who is consenting to the filing of a petition for adoption or to terminate the parent–child relationship as described by Subsection (a);

(3) the birth date of the child or the anticipated birth date if the child has not been born; and

(4) the name of the county in which the suit will be filed.

(c) The statement to confer standing must be attached to the petition in a suit affecting the parent–child relationship. The statement may not be used for any purpose other than to confer standing in a proceeding for adoption or to terminate the parent–child relationship.

(d) A statement to confer standing may be signed at any time during the pregnancy of the mother of the unborn child whose parental rights are to be terminated.

(e) A statement to confer standing is not required in a suit brought by a person who has standing to file a suit affecting the parent–child relationship under Sections 102.003(a)(1)–(13) or any other law under which the person has standing to file a suit.

(f) A person who executes a statement to confer standing may revoke the statement at any time before the person executes an affidavit for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. The revocation of the statement must be in writing and must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the prospective adoptive parent.

(g) On filing with the court proof of the delivery of the revocation of a statement to confer standing under Subsection (f), the court shall dismiss any suit affecting the parent–child relationship filed by the prospective adoptive parent named in the statement.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.004. Standing for Grandparent or Other Person.

(a) In addition to the general standing to file suit provided by Section 102.003, a grandparent, or another relative of the child related within the third degree by consanguinity, may file an original suit requesting managing conservatorship if there is satisfactory proof to the court that:

(1) the order requested is necessary because the child's present circumstances would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development; or

(2) both parents, the surviving parent, or the managing conservator or custodian either filed the petition or consented to the suit.

(b) An original suit requesting possessory conservatorship may not be filed by a grandparent or other person. However, the court may grant a grandparent or other person deemed by the court to have had substantial past contact with the child leave to intervene in a pending suit filed by a person authorized to do so under this subchapter if there is satisfactory proof to the court that appointment of a parent as a sole managing conservator or both parents as joint managing conservators would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development.

(c) Possession of or access to a child by a grandparent is governed by the standards established by Chapter 153.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.0045. Standing for Sibling.

(a) The sibling of a child may file an original suit requesting access to the child as provided by Section 153.551 if the sibling is at least 18 years of age.

(a–1) The sibling of a child who is separated from the sibling as the result of an action by the Department of Family and Protective Services may file an original suit as provided by Section 153.551 requesting access to the child, regardless of the age of the sibling. A court shall expedite a suit filed under this subsection.

(b) Access to a child by a sibling of the child is governed by the standards established by Section 153.551.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.005. Standing to Request Termination and Adoption. An original suit requesting only an adoption or for termination of the parent–child relationship joined with a petition for adoption may be filed by:

(1) a stepparent of the child;

(2) an adult who, as the result of a placement for adoption, has had actual possession and control of the child at any time during the 30–day period preceding the filing of the petition;

(3) an adult who has had actual possession and control of the child for not less than two months during the three–month period preceding the filing of the petition;

(4) an adult who has adopted, or is the foster parent of and has petitioned to adopt, a sibling of the child; or

(5) another adult whom the court determines to have had substantial past contact with the child sufficient to warrant standing to do so.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.006. Limitations on Standing.

(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c), if the parent–child relationship between the child and every living parent of the child has been terminated, an original suit may not be filed by:

(1) a former parent whose parent–child relationship with the child has been terminated by court order;

(2) the father of the child; or

(3) a family member or relative by blood, adoption, or marriage of either a former parent whose parent–child relationship has been terminated or of the father of the child.

(b) The limitations on filing suit imposed by this section do not apply to a person who:

(1) has a continuing right to possession of or access to the child under an existing court order; or

(2) has the consent of the child's managing conservator, guardian, or legal custodian to bring the suit.

(c) The limitations on filing suit imposed by this section do not apply to an adult sibling of the child, a grandparent of the child, an aunt who is a sister of a parent of the child, or an uncle who is a brother of a parent of the child if the adult sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle files an original suit or a suit for modification requesting managing conservatorship of the child not later than the 90th day after the date the parent–child relationship between the child and the parent is terminated in a suit filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services requesting the termination of the parent–child relationship.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.007. Standing of Title IV–D Agency. In providing services authorized by Chapter 231, the Title IV–D agency or a political subdivision contracting with the attorney general to provide Title IV–D services under this title may file a child support action authorized under this title, including a suit for modification or a motion for enforcement.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.008. Contents of Petition.

(a) The petition and all other documents in a proceeding filed under this title, except a suit for adoption of an adult, shall be entitled "In the interest of __________, a child." In a suit in which adoption of a child is requested, the style shall be "In the interest of a child."

(b) The petition must include:

(1) a statement that the court in which the petition is filed has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction or that no court has continuing jurisdiction of the suit;

(2) the name and date of birth of the child, except that if adoption of a child is requested, the name of the child may be omitted;

(3) the full name of the petitioner and the petitioner's relationship to the child or the fact that no relationship exists;

(4) the names of the parents, except in a suit in which adoption is requested;

(5) the name of the managing conservator, if any, or the child's custodian, if any, appointed by order of a court of another state or country;

(6) the names of the guardians of the person and estate of the child, if any;

(7) the names of possessory conservators or other persons, if any, having possession of or access to the child under an order of the court;

(8) the name of an alleged father of the child or a statement that the identity of the father of the child is unknown;

(9) a full description and statement of value of all property owned or possessed by the child;

(10) a statement describing what action the court is requested to take concerning the child and the statutory grounds on which the request is made; and

(11) any other information required by this title.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.0086. Confidentiality of Pleadings.

(a) This section applies only in a county with a population of 3.4 million or more.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by law, all pleadings and other documents filed with the court in a suit affecting the parent–child relationship are confidential, are excepted from required public disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be released to a person who is not a party to the suit until after the date of service of citation or the 31st day after the date of filing the suit, whichever date is sooner.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.009. Service of Citation.

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the following are entitled to service of citation on the filing of a petition in an original suit:

(1) a managing conservator;

(2) a possessory conservator;

(3) a person having possession of or access to the child under an order;

(4) a person required by law or by order to provide for the support of the child;

(5) a guardian of the person of the child;

(6) a guardian of the estate of the child;

(7) each parent as to whom the parent–child relationship has not been terminated or process has not been waived under Chapter 161;

(8) an alleged father, unless there is attached to the petition an affidavit of waiver of interest in a child executed by the alleged father as provided by Chapter 161 or unless the petitioner has complied with the provisions of Section 161.002(b)(2), (3), or (4);

(9) a man who has filed a notice of intent to claim paternity as provided by Chapter 160;

(10) the Department of Family and Protective Services, if the petition requests that the department be appointed as managing conservator of the child;

(11) the Title IV–D agency, if the petition requests the termination of the parent–child relationship and support rights have been assigned to the Title IV–D agency under Chapter 231;

(12) a prospective adoptive parent to whom standing has been conferred under Section 102.0035; and

(13) a person designated as the managing conservator in a revoked or unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment under Chapter 161 or to whom consent to adoption has been given in writing under Chapter 162.

(b) Citation may be served on any other person who has or who may assert an interest in the child.

(c) Citation on the filing of an original petition in a suit shall be issued and served as in other civil cases.

(d) If the petition requests the establishment, termination, modification, or enforcement of a support right assigned to the Title IV–D agency under Chapter 231 or the rescission of a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity under Chapter 160, notice shall be given to the Title IV–D agency in a manner provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(e) In a proceeding under Chapter 233, the requirements imposed by Subsections (a) and (c) do not apply to the extent of any conflict between those requirements and the provisions in Chapter 233.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.0091. Waiver of Citation.

(a) A party to a suit under this title may waive the issuance or service of citation after the suit is filed by filing with the clerk of the court in which the suit is filed the waiver of the party acknowledging receipt of a copy of the filed petition.

(b) The party executing the waiver may not sign the waiver using a digitized signature.

(c) The waiver must contain the mailing address of the party executing the waiver.

(d) Notwithstanding Section 132.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the waiver must be sworn before a notary public who is not an attorney in the suit. This subsection does not apply if the party executing the waiver is incarcerated.

(e) The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply to a waiver executed under this section.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.010. Service of Citation by Publication.

(a) Citation may be served by publication as in other civil cases to persons entitled to service of citation who cannot be notified by personal service or registered or certified mail and to persons whose names are unknown.

(b) Citation by publication shall be published one time. If the name of a person entitled to service of citation is unknown, the notice to be published shall be addressed to "All Whom It May Concern." One or more causes to be heard on a certain day may be included in one notice and hearings may be continued from time to time without further notice.

(c) Citation by publication shall be sufficient if given in substantially the following form:

To (names of persons to be served with citation) and to all whom it may concern (if the name of any person to be served with citation is unknown), Respondent(s),"STATE OF TEXAS

"You have been sued. You may employ an attorney. If you or your attorney do (does) not file a written answer with the clerk who issued this citation by 10 a.m. on the Monday next following the expiration of 20 days after you were served this citation and petition, a default judgment may be taken against you. The petition of ______________, Petitioner, was filed in the Court of _______________ County, Texas, on the ___ day of _________, _____, against __________, Respondent(s), numbered _____, and entitled 'In the interest of __________, a child (or children).' The suit requests (statement of relief requested, e.g., 'terminate the parent–child relationship'). The date and place of birth of the child (children) who is (are) the subject of the suit: _____________.

"The court has authority in this suit to render an order in the child's (children's) interest that will be binding on you, including the termination of the parent–child relationship, the determination of paternity, and the appointment of a conservator with authority to consent to the child's (children's) adoption."Issued and given under my hand and seal of the Court at _________, Texas, this the ___ day of _______, ____.

". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Clerk of the District Court of

______________ County, Texas.

By _____________, Deputy."

(d) In any suit in which service of citation is by publication, a statement of the evidence of service, approved and signed by the court, must be filed with the papers of the suit as a part of the record.

(e) In a suit filed under Chapter 161 or 262 in which the last name of the respondent is unknown, the court may order substituted service of citation by publication, including publication by posting the citation at the courthouse door for a specified time, if the court finds and states in its order that the method of substituted service is as likely as citation by publication in a newspaper in the manner described by Subsection (b) to give the respondent actual notice of the suit. If the court orders that citation by publication shall be completed by posting the citation at the courthouse door for a specified time, service must be completed on, and the answer date is computed from, the expiration date of the posting period. If the court orders another method of substituted service of citation by publication, service shall be completed as directed by the court.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.011. Acquiring Jurisdiction Over Nonresident.

(a) The court may exercise status or subject matter jurisdiction over the suit as provided by Chapter 152.

(b) The court may also exercise personal jurisdiction over a person on whom service of citation is required or over the person's personal representative, although the person is not a resident or domiciliary of this state, if:

(1) the person is personally served with citation in this state;

(2) the person submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent, by entering a general appearance, or by filing a responsive document having the effect of waiving any contest to personal jurisdiction;

(3) the child resides in this state as a result of the acts or directives of the person;

(4) the person resided with the child in this state;

(5) the person resided in this state and provided prenatal expenses or support for the child;

(6) the person engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse;

(7) the person, as provided by Chapter 160:

(A) registered with the paternity registry maintained by the vital statistics unit; or

(B) signed an acknowledgment of paternity of a child born in this state; or

(8) there is any basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States for the exercise of the personal jurisdiction.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.012. Exercising Partial Jurisdiction.

(a) A court in which a suit is filed may exercise its jurisdiction over those portions of the suit for which it has authority.

(b) The court's authority to resolve all issues in controversy between the parties may be restricted because the court lacks:

(1) the required personal jurisdiction over a nonresident party;

(2) the required jurisdiction under Chapter 152; or

(3) the required jurisdiction under Chapter 159.

(c) If a provision of Chapter 152 or Chapter 159 expressly conflicts with another provision of this title and the conflict cannot be reconciled, the provision of Chapter 152 or Chapter 159 prevails.

(d) In exercising jurisdiction, the court shall seek to harmonize the provisions of this code, the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (28 U.S.C. Section 1738A), and the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Order Act (28 U.S.C. Section 1738B).

[Contents]

Sec. 102.013. Docketing Requirements.

(a) In a suit for modification or a motion for enforcement, the clerk shall file the petition or motion and all related papers under the same docket number as the prior proceeding without additional letters, digits, or special designations.

(b) If a suit requests the adoption of a child, the clerk shall file the suit and all other papers relating to the suit in a new file having a new docket number.

(c) In a suit to determine parentage under this title in which the court has rendered an order relating to an earlier born child of the same parents, the clerk shall file the suit and all other papers relating to the suit under the same docket number as the prior parentage action. For all other purposes, including the assessment of fees and other costs, the suit is a separate suit.

[Contents]

Sec. 102.014. Use of Digitized Signature.

(a) A digitized signature on an original petition under this chapter or any other pleading or order in a suit satisfies the requirements for and imposes the duties of signatories to pleadings, motions, and other papers identified under Rule 13, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) A digitized signature under this section may be applied only by, and must remain under the sole control of, the person whose signature is represented.

Ch. 103. Venue and Transfer of Original Proceedings

Sec. 103.001. Venue for Original Suit.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this title, an original suit shall be filed in the county where the child resides, unless:

(1) another court has continuing exclusive jurisdiction under Chapter 155; or

(2) venue is fixed in a suit for dissolution of a marriage under Subchapter D, Chapter 6.

(b) A suit in which adoption is requested may be filed in the county where the child resides or in the county where the petitioners reside, regardless of whether another court has continuing exclusive jurisdiction under Chapter 155. A court that has continuing exclusive jurisdiction is not required to transfer the suit affecting the parent–child relationship to the court in which the adoption suit is filed.

(c) A child resides in the county where the child's parents reside or the child's parent resides, if only one parent is living, except that:

(1) if a guardian of the person has been appointed by order of a county or probate court and a managing conservator has not been appointed, the child resides in the county where the guardian of the person resides;

(2) if the parents of the child do not reside in the same county and if a managing conservator, custodian, or guardian of the person has not been appointed, the child resides in the county where the parent having actual care, control, and possession of the child resides;

(3) if the child is in the care and control of an adult other than a parent and a managing conservator, custodian, or guardian of the person has not been appointed, the child resides where the adult having actual care, control, and possession of the child resides;

(4) if the child is in the actual care, control, and possession of an adult other than a parent and the whereabouts of the parent and the guardian of the person is unknown, the child resides where the adult having actual possession, care, and control of the child resides;

(5) if the person whose residence would otherwise determine venue has left the child in the care and control of the adult, the child resides where that adult resides;

(6) if a guardian or custodian of the child has been appointed by order of a court of another state or country, the child resides in the county where the guardian or custodian resides if that person resides in this state; or

(7) if it appears that the child is not under the actual care, control, and possession of an adult, the child resides where the child is found.

[Contents]

Sec. 103.002. Transfer of Original Proceedings Within State.

(a) If venue of a suit is improper in the court in which an original suit is filed and no other court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of the suit, on the timely motion of a party other than the petitioner, the court shall transfer the proceeding to the county where venue is proper.

(b) On a showing that a suit for dissolution of the marriage of the child's parents has been filed in another court, a court in which a suit is pending shall transfer the proceedings to the court where the dissolution of the marriage is pending.

(c) The procedures in Chapter 155 apply to a transfer of:

(1) an original suit under this section; or

(2) a suit for modification or a motion for enforcement under this title.

[Contents]

Sec. 103.003. Transfer of Original Suit Within State when Party or Child Resides Outside State.

(a) A court of this state in which an original suit is filed or in which a suit for child support is filed under Chapter 159 shall transfer the suit to the county of residence of the party who is a resident of this state if all other parties and children affected by the proceedings reside outside this state.

(b) If one or more of the parties affected by the suit reside outside this state and if more than one party or one or more children affected by the proceeding reside in this state in different counties, the court shall transfer the suit according to the following priorities:

(1) to the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, if any;

(2) to the county of residence of the child, if applicable, provided that:

(A) there is no court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction; or

(B) the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction finds that neither a party nor a child affected by the proceeding resides in the county of the court of continuing jurisdiction; or

(3) if Subdivisions (1) and (2) are inapplicable, to the county most appropriate to serve the convenience of the resident parties, the witnesses, and the interest of justice.

(c) If a transfer of an original suit or suit for child support under Chapter 159 is sought under this section, Chapter 155 applies to the procedures for transfer of the suit.

Ch. 104. Evidence

[Contents]

Sec. 104.001. Rules of Evidence. Except as otherwise provided, the Texas Rules of Evidence apply as in other civil cases.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.002. Prerecorded Statement of Child. If a child 12 years of age or younger is alleged in a suit under this title to have been abused, the recording of an oral statement of the child recorded prior to the proceeding is admissible into evidence if:

(1) no attorney for a party was present when the statement was made;

(2) the recording is both visual and aural and is recorded on film or videotape or by other electronic means;

(3) the recording equipment was capable of making an accurate recording, the operator was competent, and the recording is accurate and has not been altered;

(4) the statement was not made in response to questioning calculated to lead the child to make a particular statement;

(5) each voice on the recording is identified;

(6) the person conducting the interview of the child in the recording is present at the proceeding and available to testify or be cross–examined by either party; and

(7) each party is afforded an opportunity to view the recording before it is offered into evidence.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.003. Prerecorded Videotaped Testimony of Child.

(a) The court may, on the motion of a party to the proceeding, order that the testimony of the child be taken outside the courtroom and be recorded for showing in the courtroom before the court, the finder of fact, and the parties to the proceeding.

(b) Only an attorney for each party, an attorney ad litem for the child or other person whose presence would contribute to the welfare and well–being of the child, and persons necessary to operate the equipment may be present in the room with the child during the child's testimony.

(c) Only the attorneys for the parties may question the child.

(d) The persons operating the equipment shall be placed in a manner that prevents the child from seeing or hearing them.

(e) The court shall ensure that:

(1) the recording is both visual and aural and is recorded on film or videotape or by other electronic means;

(2) the recording equipment was capable of making an accurate recording, the operator was competent, and the recording is accurate and is not altered;

(3) each voice on the recording is identified; and

(4) each party to the proceeding is afforded an opportunity to view the recording before it is shown in the courtroom.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.004. Remote Televised Broadcast of Testimony of Child.

(a) If in a suit a child 12 years of age or younger is alleged to have been abused, the court may, on the motion of a party to the proceeding, order that the testimony of the child be taken in a room other than the courtroom and be televised by closed–circuit equipment in the courtroom to be viewed by the court and the parties.

(b) The procedures that apply to prerecorded videotaped testimony of a child apply to the remote broadcast of testimony of a child.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.005. Substitution for In–Court Testimony of Child.

(a) If the testimony of a child is taken as provided by this chapter, the child may not be compelled to testify in court during the proceeding.

(b) The court may allow the testimony of a child of any age to be taken in any manner provided by this chapter if the child, because of a medical condition, is incapable of testifying in open court.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.006. Hearsay Statement of Child Abuse Victim. In a suit affecting the parent–child relationship, a statement made by a child 12 years of age or younger that describes alleged abuse against the child, without regard to whether the statement is otherwise inadmissible as hearsay, is admissible as evidence if, in a hearing conducted outside the presence of the jury, the court finds that the time, content, and circumstances of the statement provide sufficient indications of the statement's reliability and:

(1) the child testifies or is available to testify at the proceeding in court or in any other manner provided for by law; or

(2) the court determines that the use of the statement in lieu of the child's testimony is necessary to protect the welfare of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.007. Video Testimony of Certain Professionals.

(a) In this section, "professional" has the meaning assigned by Section 261.101(b).

(b) In a proceeding brought by the Department of Family and Protective Services concerning a child who is alleged in a suit to have been abused or neglected, the court may order that the testimony of a professional be taken outside the courtroom by videoconference:

(1) on the agreement of the department's counsel and respondent's counsel; or

(2) if good cause exists, on the court's own motion.

(c) In ordering testimony to be taken as provided by Subsection (b), the court shall ensure that the videoconference testimony allows:

(1) the parties and attorneys involved in the proceeding to be able to see and hear the professional as the professional testifies; and

(2) the professional to be able to see and hear the parties and attorneys examining the professional while the professional is testifying.

(d) If the court permits the testimony of a professional by videoconference as provided by this section to be admitted during the proceeding, the professional may not be compelled to be physically present in court during the same proceeding to provide the same testimony unless ordered by the court.

[Contents]

Sec. 104.008. Certain Testimony Prohibited.

(a) A person may not offer an expert opinion or recommendation relating to the conservatorship of or possession of or access to a child at issue in a suit unless the person has conducted a child custody evaluation relating to the child under Subchapter D, Chapter 107.

(b) In a contested suit, a mental health professional may provide other relevant information and opinions, other than those prohibited by Subsection (a), relating to any party that the mental health professional has personally evaluated.

(c) This section does not apply to a suit in which the Department of Family and Protective Services is a party.

Ch. 105. Settings, Hearings, and Orders

[Contents]

Sec. 105.001. Temporary Orders Before Final Order.

(a) In a suit, the court may make a temporary order, including the modification of a prior temporary order, for the safety and welfare of the child, including an order:

(1) for the temporary conservatorship of the child;

(2) for the temporary support of the child;

(3) restraining a party from disturbing the peace of the child or another party;

(4) prohibiting a person from removing the child beyond a geographical area identified by the court; or

(5) for payment of reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions under this section shall be granted without the necessity of an affidavit or verified pleading stating specific facts showing that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result before notice can be served and a hearing can be held. Except as provided by Subsection (h), an order may not be rendered under Subsection (a)(1), (2), or (5) except after notice and a hearing. A temporary restraining order or temporary injunction granted under this section need not:

(1) define the injury or state why it is irreparable;

(2) state why the order was granted without notice; or

(3) include an order setting the cause for trial on the merits with respect to the ultimate relief requested.

(c) Except on a verified pleading or an affidavit in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, an order may not be rendered:

(1) attaching the body of the child;

(2) taking the child into the possession of the court or of a person designated by the court; or

(3) excluding a parent from possession of or access to a child.

(d) In a suit, the court may dispense with the necessity of a bond in connection with temporary orders on behalf of the child.

(e) Temporary orders rendered under this section are not subject to interlocutory appeal.

(f) The violation of a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or other temporary order rendered under this section is punishable by contempt and the order is subject to and enforceable under Chapter 157.

(g) The rebuttable presumptions established in favor of the application of the guidelines for a child support order and for the standard possession order under Chapters 153 and 154 apply to temporary orders. The presumptions do not limit the authority of the court to render other temporary orders.

(h) An order under Subsection (a)(1) may be rendered without notice and an adversary hearing if the order is an emergency order sought by a governmental entity under Chapter 262.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.0011. Information Regarding Protective Orders. At any time while a suit is pending, if the court believes, on the basis of any information received by the court, that a party to the suit or a member of the party's family or household may be a victim of family violence, the court shall inform that party of the party's right to apply for a protective order under Title 4.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.002. Jury.

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a party may demand a jury trial.

(b) A party may not demand a jury trial in:

(1) a suit in which adoption is sought, including a trial on the issue of denial or revocation of consent to the adoption by the managing conservator; or

(2) a suit to adjudicate parentage under Chapter 160.

(c) In a jury trial:

(1) a party is entitled to a verdict by the jury and the court may not contravene a jury verdict on the issues of:

(A) the appointment of a sole managing conservator;

(B) the appointment of joint managing conservators;

(C) the appointment of a possessory conservator;

(D) the determination of which joint managing conservator has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child;

(E) the determination of whether to impose a restriction on the geographic area in which a joint managing conservator may designate the child's primary residence; and

(F) if a restriction described by Paragraph

(E) is imposed, the determination of the geographic area within which the joint managing conservator must designate the child's primary residence; and

(2) the court may not submit to the jury questions on the issues of:

(A) support under Chapter 154 or Chapter 159;

(B) a specific term or condition of possession of or access to the child; or

(C) any right or duty of a conservator, other than the determination of which joint managing conservator has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child under Subdivision (1)(D).

[Contents]

Sec. 105.003. Procedure for Contested Hearing.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this title, proceedings shall be as in civil cases generally.

(b) On the agreement of all parties to the suit, the court may limit attendance at the hearing to only those persons who have a direct interest in the suit or in the work of the court.

(c) A record shall be made as in civil cases generally unless waived by the parties with the consent of the court.

(d) When information contained in a report, study, or examination is before the court, the person making the report, study, or examination is subject to both direct examination and cross–examination as in civil cases generally.

(e) The hearing may be adjourned from time to time.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.004. Preferential Setting. After a hearing, the court may:

(1) grant a motion filed by a party or by the amicus attorney or attorney ad litem for the child for a preferential setting for a trial on the merits; and

(2) give precedence to that hearing over other civil cases if the court finds that the delay created by ordinary scheduling practices will unreasonably affect the best interest of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.005. Findings. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court's findings shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.006. Contents of Final Order.

(a) A final order, other than in a proceeding under Chapter 161 or 162, must contain:

(1) the social security number and driver's license number of each party to the suit, including the child, except that the child's social security number or driver's license number is not required if the child has not been assigned a social security number or driver's license number; and

(2) each party's current residence address, mailing address, home telephone number, name of employer, address of employment, and work telephone number, except as provided by Subsection (c).

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), the court shall order each party to inform each other party, the court that rendered the order, and the state case registry under Chapter 234 of an intended change in any of the information required by this section as long as any person, as a result of the order, is under an obligation to pay child support or is entitled to possession of or access to a child. The court shall order that notice of the intended change be given at the earlier of:

(1) the 60th day before the date the party intends to make the change; or

(2) the fifth day after the date that the party knew of the change, if the party did not know or could not have known of the change in sufficient time to comply with Subdivision (1).

(c) If a court finds after notice and hearing that requiring a party to provide the information required by this section to another party is likely to cause the child or a conservator harassment, abuse, serious harm, or injury, or to subject the child or a conservator to family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, the court may:

(1) order the information not to be disclosed to another party; or

(2) render any other order the court considers necessary.

(d) An order in a suit that orders child support or possession of or access to a child must contain the following prominently displayed statement in boldfaced type, capital letters, or underlined:

"FAILURE TO OBEY A COURT ORDER FOR CHILD SUPPORT OR FOR POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO A CHILD MAY RESULT IN FURTHER LITIGATION TO ENFORCE THE ORDER, INCLUDING CONTEMPT OF COURT. A FINDING OF CONTEMPT MAY BE PUNISHED BY CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR UP TO SIX MONTHS, A FINE OF UP TO $500 FOR EACH VIOLATION, AND A MONEY JUDGMENT FOR PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COURT COSTS."

"FAILURE OF A PARTY TO MAKE A CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT TO THE PLACE AND IN THE MANNER REQUIRED BY A COURT ORDER MAY RESULT IN THE PARTY NOT RECEIVING CREDIT FOR MAKING THE PAYMENT."

"FAILURE OF A PARTY TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT DOES NOT JUSTIFY DENYING THAT PARTY COURT–ORDERED POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO A CHILD. REFUSAL BY A PARTY TO ALLOW POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO A CHILD DOES NOT JUSTIFY FAILURE TO PAY COURT–ORDERED CHILD SUPPORT TO THAT PARTY."

(e) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an order in a suit that orders child support or possession of or access to a child must also contain the following prominently displayed statement in boldfaced type, capital letters, or underlined:

"EACH PERSON WHO IS A PARTY TO THIS ORDER IS ORDERED TO NOTIFY EACH OTHER PARTY, THE COURT, AND THE STATE CASE REGISTRY OF ANY CHANGE IN THE PARTY'S CURRENT RESIDENCE ADDRESS, MAILING ADDRESS, HOME TELEPHONE NUMBER, NAME OF EMPLOYER, ADDRESS OF EMPLOYMENT, DRIVER'S LICENSE NUMBER, AND WORK TELEPHONE NUMBER. THE PARTY IS ORDERED TO GIVE NOTICE OF AN INTENDED CHANGE IN ANY OF THE REQUIRED INFORMATION TO EACH OTHER PARTY, THE COURT, AND THE STATE CASE REGISTRY ON OR BEFORE THE 60TH DAY BEFORE THE INTENDED CHANGE. IF THE PARTY DOES NOT KNOW OR COULD NOT HAVE KNOWN OF THE CHANGE IN SUFFICIENT TIME TO PROVIDE 60–DAY NOTICE, THE PARTY IS ORDERED TO GIVE NOTICE OF THE CHANGE ON OR BEFORE THE FIFTH DAY AFTER THE DATE THAT THE PARTY KNOWS OF THE CHANGE."

"THE DUTY TO FURNISH THIS INFORMATION TO EACH OTHER PARTY, THE COURT, AND THE STATE CASE REGISTRY CONTINUES AS LONG AS ANY PERSON, BY VIRTUE OF THIS ORDER, IS UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT OR ENTITLED TO POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO A CHILD."

"FAILURE BY A PARTY TO OBEY THE ORDER OF THIS COURT TO PROVIDE EACH OTHER PARTY, THE COURT, AND THE STATE CASE REGISTRY WITH THE CHANGE IN THE REQUIRED INFORMATION MAY RESULT IN FURTHER LITIGATION TO ENFORCE THE ORDER, INCLUDING CONTEMPT OF COURT. A FINDING OF CONTEMPT MAY BE PUNISHED BY CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR UP TO SIX MONTHS, A FINE OF UP TO $500 FOR EACH VIOLATION, AND A MONEY JUDGMENT FOR PAYMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COURT COSTS."

(e–1) An order in a suit that provides for the possession of or access to a child must contain the following prominently displayed statement in boldfaced type, in capital letters, or underlined:

"NOTICE TO ANY PEACE OFFICER OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: YOU MAY USE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF CHILD CUSTODY SPECIFIED IN THIS ORDER. A PEACE OFFICER WHO RELIES ON THE TERMS OF A COURT ORDER AND THE OFFICER'S AGENCY ARE ENTITLED TO THE APPLICABLE IMMUNITY AGAINST ANY CLAIM, CIVIL OR OTHERWISE, REGARDING THE OFFICER'S GOOD FAITH ACTS PERFORMED IN THE SCOPE OF THE OFFICER'S DUTIES IN ENFORCING THE TERMS OF THE ORDER THAT RELATE TO CHILD CUSTODY. ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY PRESENTS FOR ENFORCEMENT AN ORDER THAT IS INVALID OR NO LONGER IN EFFECT COMMITS AN OFFENSE THAT MAY BE PUNISHABLE BY CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR AS LONG AS TWO YEARS AND A FINE OF AS MUCH AS $10,000."

(e–2) An order in a suit that orders child support must contain the following prominently displayed statement in boldfaced type, in capital letters, or underlined:

"THE COURT MAY MODIFY THIS ORDER THAT PROVIDES FOR THE SUPPORT OF A CHILD, IF:

(1) THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CHILD OR A PERSON AFFECTED BY THE ORDER HAVE MATERIALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY CHANGED; OR

(2) IT HAS BEEN THREE YEARS SINCE THE ORDER WAS RENDERED OR LAST MODIFIED AND THE MONTHLY AMOUNT OF THE CHILD SUPPORT AWARD UNDER THE ORDER DIFFERS BY EITHER 20 PERCENT OR $100 FROM THE AMOUNT THAT WOULD BE AWARDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES."

(f) Except for an action in which contempt is sought, in any subsequent child support enforcement action, the court may, on a showing that diligent effort has been made to determine the location of a party, consider due process requirements for notice and service of process to be met with respect to that party on delivery of written notice to the most recent residential or employer address filed by that party with the court and the state case registry.

(g) The Title IV–D agency shall promulgate and provide forms for a party to use in reporting to the court and the state case registry under Chapter 234 the information required under this section.

(h) The court may include in a final order in a suit in which a party to the suit makes an allegation of child abuse or neglect a finding on whether the party who made the allegation knew that the allegation was false. This finding shall not constitute collateral estoppel for any criminal proceeding. The court may impose on a party found to have made a false allegation of child abuse or neglect any civil sanction permitted under law, including attorney's fees, costs of experts, and any other costs.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.007. Compliance with Order Requiring Notice of Change of Required Information.

(a) A party shall comply with the order by giving written notice to each other party of an intended change in the party's current residence address, mailing address, home telephone number, name of employer, address of employment, and work telephone number.

(b) The party must give written notice by registered or certified mail of an intended change in the required information to each other party on or before the 60th day before the change is made. If the party does not know or could not have known of the change in sufficient time to provide 60–day notice, the party shall provide the written notice of the change on or before the fifth day after the date that the party knew of the change.

(c) The court may waive the notice required by this section on motion by a party if it finds that the giving of notice of a change of the required information would be likely to expose the child or the party to harassment, abuse, serious harm, or injury.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.008. Record of Support Order for State Case Registry.

(a) The clerk of the court shall provide the state case registry with a record of a court order for child support. The record of an order shall include information provided by the parties on a form developed by the Title IV–D agency. The form shall be completed by the petitioner and submitted to the clerk at the time the order is filed for record.

(b) To the extent federal funds are available, the Title IV–D agency shall reimburse the clerk of the court for the costs incurred in providing the record of support order required under this section.

[Contents]

Sec. 105.009. Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.

(a) In a suit affecting the parent–child relationship, including an action to modify an order in a suit affecting the parent–child relationship providing for possession of or access to a child, the court may order the parties to the suit to attend a parent education and family stabilization course if the court determines that the order is in the best interest of the child.

(b) The parties to the suit may not be required to attend the course together. The court, on its own motion or the motion of either party, may prohibit the parties from taking the course together if there is a history of family violence in the marriage.

(c) A course under this section must be at least four hours, but not more than 12 hours, in length and be designed to educate and assist parents with regard to the consequences of divorce on parents and children. The course must include information on the following issues:

(1) the emotional effects of divorce on parents;

(2) the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;

(3) parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;

(4) stress indicators in young children and adolescents;

(5) conflict management;

(6) family stabilization through development of a coparenting relationship;

(7) the financial responsibilities of parenting;

(8) family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and

(9) the availability of community services and resources.

(d) A course may not be designed to provide individual mental health therapy or individual legal advice.

(e) A course satisfies the requirements of this section if it is offered by:

(1) a mental health professional who has at least a master's degree with a background in family therapy or parent education; or

(2) a religious practitioner who performs counseling consistent with the laws of this state or another person designated as a program counselor by a church or religious institution if the litigant so chooses.

(f) Information obtained in a course or a statement made by a participant to a suit during a course may not be considered in the adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding. Any report that results from participation in the course may not become a record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the record in writing.

(g) The court may take appropriate action with regard to a party who fails to attend or complete a course ordered by the court under this section, including holding the party in contempt of court, striking pleadings, or invoking any sanction provided by Rule 215, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The failure or refusal by a party to attend or complete a course required by this section may not delay the court from rendering a judgment in a suit affecting the parent–child relationship.

(h) The course required under this section may be completed by:

(1) personal instruction;

(2) videotape instruction;

(3) instruction through an electronic medium; or

(4) a combination of those methods.

(i) On completion of the course, the course provider shall issue a certificate of completion to each participant. The certificate must state:

(1) the name of the participant;

(2) the name of the course provider;

(3) the date the course was completed; and

(4) whether the course was provided by:

(A) personal instruction;

(B) videotape instruction;

(C) instruction through an electronic medium; or

(D) a combination of those methods.

(j) The county clerk in each county may establish a registry of course providers in the county and a list of locations at which courses are provided. The clerk shall include information in the registry identifying courses that are offered on a sliding fee scale or without charge.

(k) The court may not order the parties to a suit to attend a course under this section if the parties cannot afford to take the course. If the parties cannot afford to take a course, the court may direct the parties to a course that is offered on a sliding fee scale or without charge, if a course of that type is available. A party to a suit may not be required to pay more than $100 to attend a course ordered under this section.

(l) A person who has attended a course under this section may not be required to attend the course more than twice before the fifth anniversary of the date the person completes the course for the first time.

Text of subsection as added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., R.S., Ch. 916 (H.B. 260), Sec. 6

(m) A course under this section must be available in both English and Spanish.

Text of subsection as added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1171 (H.B. 3531), Sec. 3

(m) A course under this section in a suit filed in a county with a population of more than two million that is adjacent to a county with a population of more than one million must be available in both English and Spanish.

Ch. 106. Costs and Attorney's Fees

[Contents]

Sec. 106.001. Costs. The court may award costs in a suit or motion under this title and in a habeas corpus proceeding.

[Contents]

Sec. 106.002. Attorney's Fees and Expenses.

(a) In a suit under this title, the court may render judgment for reasonable attorney's fees and expenses and order the judgment and postjudgment interest to be paid directly to an attorney.

(b) A judgment for attorney's fees and expenses may be enforced in the attorney's name by any means available for the enforcement of a judgment for debt.

Ch. 107. Special Appointments, Child Custody Evaluations, and Adoption Evaluations

Subch. A. Court–Ordered Representation in Suits Affecting the Parent–Child Relationship

[Contents]

Sec. 107.001. Definitions. In this chapter:

(1) "Amicus attorney" means an attorney appointed by the court in a suit, other than a suit filed by a governmental entity, whose role is to provide legal services necessary to assist the court in protecting a child's best interests rather than to provide legal services to the child.

(2) "Attorney ad litem" means an attorney who provides legal services to a person, including a child, and who owes to the person the duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation.

(3) "Developmentally appropriate" means structured to account for a child's age, level of education, cultural background, and degree of language acquisition.

(4) "Dual role" means the role of an attorney who is appointed under Section 107.0125 to act as both guardian ad litem and attorney ad litem for a child in a suit filed by a governmental entity.

(5) "Guardian ad litem" means a person appointed to represent the best interests of a child. The term includes:

(A) a volunteer advocate from a charitable organization described by Subchapter C who is appointed by the court as the child's guardian ad litem;

(B) a professional, other than an attorney, who holds a relevant professional license and whose training relates to the determination of a child's best interests;

(C) an adult having the competence, training, and expertise determined by the court to be sufficient to represent the best interests of the child; or

(D) an attorney ad litem appointed to serve in the dual role.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.002. Powers and Duties of Guardian Ad Litem for Child.

(a) A guardian ad litem appointed for a child under this chapter is not a party to the suit but may:

(1) conduct an investigation to the extent that the guardian ad litem considers necessary to determine the best interests of the child; and

(2) obtain and review copies of the child's relevant medical, psychological, and school records as provided by Section 107.006.

(b) A guardian ad litem appointed for the child under this chapter shall:

(1) within a reasonable time after the appointment, interview:

(A) the child in a developmentally appropriate manner, if the child is four years of age or older;

(B) each person who has significant knowledge of the child's history and condition, including any foster parent of the child; and

(C) the parties to the suit;

(2) seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the child's expressed objectives;

(3) consider the child's expressed objectives without being bound by those objectives;

(4) encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution; and

(5) perform any specific task directed by the court.

(b–1) In addition to the duties required by Subsection (b), a guardian ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262 or 263 shall:

(1) review the medical care provided to the child; and

(2) in a developmentally appropriate manner, seek to elicit the child's opinion on the medical care provided.

(c) A guardian ad litem appointed for the child under this chapter is entitled to:

(1) receive a copy of each pleading or other paper filed with the court in the case in which the guardian ad litem is appointed;

(2) receive notice of each hearing in the case;

(3) participate in case staffings by the Department of Family and Protective Services concerning the child;

(4) attend all legal proceedings in the case but may not call or question a witness or otherwise provide legal services unless the guardian ad litem is a licensed attorney who has been appointed in the dual role;

(5) review and sign, or decline to sign, an agreed order affecting the child; and

(6) explain the basis for the guardian ad litem's opposition to the agreed order if the guardian ad litem does not agree to the terms of a proposed order.

(d) The court may compel the guardian ad litem to attend a trial or hearing and to testify as necessary for the proper disposition of the suit.

(e) Unless the guardian ad litem is an attorney who has been appointed in the dual role and subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence, the court shall ensure in a hearing or in a trial on the merits that a guardian ad litem has an opportunity to testify regarding, and is permitted to submit a report regarding, the guardian ad litem's recommendations relating to:

(1) the best interests of the child; and

(2) the bases for the guardian ad litem's recommendations.

(f) In a nonjury trial, a party may call the guardian ad litem as a witness for the purpose of cross–examination regarding the guardian's report without the guardian ad litem being listed as a witness by a party. If the guardian ad litem is not called as a witness, the court shall permit the guardian ad litem to testify in the narrative.

(g) In a contested case, the guardian ad litem shall provide copies of the guardian ad litem's report, if any, to the attorneys for the parties as directed by the court, but not later than the earlier of:

(1) the date required by the scheduling order; or

(2) the 10th day before the date of the commencement of the trial.

(h) Disclosure to the jury of the contents of a guardian ad litem's report to the court is subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence.

(i) A guardian ad litem appointed to represent a child in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services shall, before each scheduled hearing under Chapter 263, determine whether the child's educational needs and goals have been identified and addressed.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.003. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Child and Amicus Attorney.

(a) An attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child or an amicus attorney appointed to assist the court:

(1) shall:

(A) subject to Rules 4.02, 4.03, and 4.04, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and within a reasonable time after the appointment, interview:

(i) the child in a developmentally appropriate manner, if the child is four years of age or older;

(ii) each person who has significant knowledge of the child's history and condition, including any foster parent of the child; and

(iii) the parties to the suit;

(B) seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the child's expressed objectives of representation;

(C) consider the impact on the child in formulating the attorney's presentation of the child's expressed objectives of representation to the court;

(D) investigate the facts of the case to the extent the attorney considers appropriate;

(E) obtain and review copies of relevant records relating to the child as provided by Section 107.006;

(F) participate in the conduct of the litigation to the same extent as an attorney for a party;

(G) take any action consistent with the child's interests that the attorney considers necessary to expedite the proceedings;

(H) encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution; and

(I) review and sign, or decline to sign, a proposed or agreed order affecting the child;

(2) must be trained in child advocacy or have experience determined by the court to be equivalent to that training; and

(3) is entitled to:

(A) request clarification from the court if the role of the attorney is ambiguous;

(B) request a hearing or trial on the merits;

(C) consent or refuse to consent to an interview of the child by another attorney;

(D) receive a copy of each pleading or other paper filed with the court;

(E) receive notice of each hearing in the suit;

(F) participate in any case staffing concerning the child conducted by the Department of Family and Protective Services; and

(G) attend all legal proceedings in the suit.

(b) In addition to the duties required by Subsection (a), an attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262 or 263 shall:

(1) review the medical care provided to the child;

(2) in a developmentally appropriate manner, seek to elicit the child's opinion on the medical care provided; and

(3) for a child at least 16 years of age, advise the child of the child's right to request the court to authorize the child to consent to the child's own medical care under Section 266.010.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.004. Additional Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Child.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, the attorney ad litem appointed for a child shall, in a developmentally appropriate manner:

(1) advise the child;

(2) represent the child's expressed objectives of representation and follow the child's expressed objectives of representation during the course of litigation if the attorney ad litem determines that the child is competent to understand the nature of an attorney–client relationship and has formed that relationship with the attorney ad litem; and

(3) as appropriate, considering the nature of the appointment, become familiar with the American Bar Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent children in abuse and neglect cases, the suggested amendments to those standards adopted by the National Association of Counsel for Children, and the American Bar Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent children in custody cases.

(b) An attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Subtitle E shall complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to representing children in child protection cases as described by Subsection (c) as soon as practicable after the attorney ad litem is appointed. An attorney ad litem is not required to comply with this subsection if the court finds that the attorney ad litem has experience equivalent to the required education.

(b–1) An attorney who is on the list maintained by the court as being qualified for appointment as an attorney ad litem for a child in a child protection case must complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to the representation of a child in a proceeding under Subtitle E each year before the anniversary date of the attorney's listing.

(c) The continuing legal education required by Subsections (b) and (b–1) must:

(1) be low–cost and available to persons throughout this state, including on the Internet provided through the State Bar of Texas; and

(2) focus on the duties of an attorney ad litem in, and the procedures of and best practices for, representing a child in a proceeding under /p>

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262 or 263 shall:

(1) meet before each court hearing with:

(A) the child, if the child is at least four years of age; or

(B) the individual with whom the child ordinarily resides, including the child's parent, conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian, if the child is younger than four years of age; and

(2) if the child or individual is not present at the court hearing, file a written statement with the court indicating that the attorney ad litem complied with Subdivision (1).

(d–1) A meeting required by Subsection (d) must take place:

(1) a sufficient time before the hearing to allow the attorney ad litem to prepare for the hearing in accordance with the child's expressed objectives of representation; and

(2) in a private setting that allows for confidential communications between the attorney ad litem and the child or individual with whom the child ordinarily resides, as applicable.

(d–2) An attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services shall, before each scheduled hearing under Chapter 263, determine whether the child's educational needs and goals have been identified and addressed.

(e) An attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262 or 263 is not required to comply with Subsection (d) before a hearing if the court finds at that hearing that the attorney ad litem has shown good cause why the attorney ad litem's compliance with that subsection is not feasible or in the best interest of the child. Additionally, a court may, on a showing of good cause, authorize an attorney ad litem to comply with Subsection (d) by conferring with the child or other individual, as appropriate, by telephone or video conference.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0045. Discipline of Attorney Ad Litem. An attorney ad litem who fails to perform the duties required by Sections 107.003 and 107.004 is subject to disciplinary action under Subchapter E, Chapter 81, Government Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.005. Additional Duties of Amicus Attorney.

(a) Subject to any specific limitation in the order of appointment, an amicus attorney shall advocate the best interests of the child after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case. Notwithstanding Subsection (b), in determining the best interests of the child, an amicus attorney is not bound by the child's expressed objectives of representation.

(b) An amicus attorney shall, in a developmentally appropriate manner:

(1) with the consent of the child, ensure that the child's expressed objectives of representation are made known to the court;

(2) explain the role of the amicus attorney to the child;

(3) inform the child that the amicus attorney may use information that the child provides in providing assistance to the court; and

(4) become familiar with the American Bar Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent children in custody cases.

(c) An amicus attorney may not disclose confidential communications between the amicus attorney and the child unless the amicus attorney determines that disclosure is necessary to assist the court regarding the best interests of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.006. Access to Child and Information Relating to Child.

(a) In conjunction with an appointment under this chapter, other than an appointment of an attorney ad litem for an adult or a parent, the court shall issue an order authorizing the attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem for the child, or amicus attorney to have immediate access to the child and any information relating to the child.

(b) Without requiring a further order or release, the custodian of any relevant records relating to the child, including records regarding social services, law enforcement records, school records, records of a probate or court proceeding, and records of a trust or account for which the child is a beneficiary, shall provide access to a person authorized to access the records under Subsection (a).

(c) Without requiring a further order or release, the custodian of a medical, mental health, or drug or alcohol treatment record of a child that is privileged or confidential under other law shall release the record to a person authorized to access the record under Subsection (a), except that a child's drug or alcohol treatment record that is confidential under 42 U.S.C. Section 290dd–2 may only be released as provided under applicable federal regulations.

(d) The disclosure of a confidential record under this section does not affect the confidentiality of the record, and the person provided access to the record may not disclose the record further except as provided by court order or other law.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the requirements of Section 159.008, Occupations Code, apply.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.007. Attorney Word Product and Testimony.

(a) An attorney ad litem, an attorney serving in the dual role, or an amicus attorney may not:

(1) be compelled to produce attorney work product developed during the appointment as an attorney;

(2) be required to disclose the source of any information;

(3) submit a report into evidence; or

(4) testify in court except as authorized by Rule 3.08, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to the duty of an attorney to report child abuse or neglect under Section 261.101.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.008. Substituted Judgment of Attorney for Child.

(a) An attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child or an attorney appointed in the dual role may determine that the child cannot meaningfully formulate the child's objectives of representation in a case because the child:

(1) lacks sufficient maturity to understand and form an attorney–client relationship with the attorney;

(2) despite appropriate legal counseling, continues to express objectives of representation that would be seriously injurious to the child; or

(3) for any other reason is incapable of making reasonable judgments and engaging in meaningful communication.

(b) An attorney ad litem or an attorney appointed in the dual role who determines that the child cannot meaningfully formulate the child's expressed objectives of representation may present to the court a position that the attorney determines will serve the best interests of the child.

(c) If a guardian ad litem has been appointed for the child in a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, an attorney ad litem who determines that the child cannot meaningfully formulate the child's expressed objectives of representation:

(1) shall consult with the guardian ad litem and, without being bound by the guardian ad litem's opinion or recommendation, ensure that the guardian ad litem's opinion and basis for any recommendation regarding the best interests of the child are presented to the court; and

(2) may present to the court a position that the attorney determines will serve the best interests of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.009. Immunity.

(a) A guardian ad litem, an attorney ad litem, or an amicus attorney appointed under this chapter is not liable for civil damages arising from an action taken, a recommendation made, or an opinion given in the capacity of guardian ad litem, attorney ad litem, or amicus attorney.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to an action taken, a recommendation made, or an opinion given:

(1) with conscious indifference or reckless disregard to the safety of another;

(2) in bad faith or with malice; or

(3) that is grossly negligent or wilfully wrongful.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.010. Discretionary Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Incapacitated Person. The court may appoint an attorney to serve as an attorney ad litem for a person entitled to service of citation in a suit if the court finds that the person is incapacitated. The attorney ad litem shall follow the person's expressed objectives of representation and, if appropriate, refer the proceeding to the proper court for guardianship proceedings.

Subch. B. Appointments in Certain Suits

Part 1. Appointments in Suits by Governmental Entity

[Contents]

Sec. 107.011. Mandatory Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this subchapter, in a suit filed by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for a child, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child immediately after the filing of the petition but before the full adversary hearing.

(b) The guardian ad litem appointed for a child under this section may be:

(1) a charitable organization composed of volunteer advocates or an individual volunteer advocate appointed under Subchapter C;

(2) an adult having the competence, training, and expertise determined by the court to be sufficient to represent the best interests of the child; or

(3) an attorney appointed in the dual role.

(c) The court may not appoint a guardian ad litem in a suit filed by a governmental entity if an attorney is appointed in the dual role unless the court appoints another person to serve as guardian ad litem for the child and restricts the role of the attorney to acting as an attorney ad litem for the child.

(d) The court may appoint an attorney to serve as guardian ad litem for a child without appointing the attorney to serve in the dual role only if the attorney is specifically appointed to serve only in the role of guardian ad litem. An attorney appointed solely as a guardian ad litem:

(1) may take only those actions that may be taken by a nonattorney guardian ad litem; and

(2) may not:

(A) perform legal services in the case; or

(B) take any action that is restricted to a licensed attorney, including engaging in discovery other than as a witness, making opening and closing statements, or examining witnesses.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.012. Mandatory Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Child. In a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or to be named conservator of a child, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of the child immediately after the filing, but before the full adversary hearing, to ensure adequate representation of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0125. Appointment of Attorney in Dual Role.

(a) In order to comply with the mandatory appointment of a guardian ad litem under Section 107.011 and the mandatory appointment of an attorney ad litem under Section 107.012, the court may appoint an attorney to serve in the dual role.

(b) If the court appoints an attorney to serve in the dual role under this section, the court may at any time during the pendency of the suit appoint another person to serve as guardian ad litem for the child and restrict the attorney to acting as an attorney ad litem for the child.

(c) An attorney appointed to serve in the dual role may request the court to appoint another person to serve as guardian ad litem for the child. If the court grants the attorney's request, the attorney shall serve only as the attorney ad litem for the child.

(d) Unless the court appoints another person as guardian ad litem in a suit filed by a governmental entity, an appointment of an attorney to serve as an attorney ad litem in a suit filed by a governmental entity is an appointment to serve in the dual role regardless of the terminology used in the appointing order.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.013. Mandatory Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent.

(a) In a suit filed by a governmental entity under Subtitle E in which termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for a child is requested, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of:

(1) an indigent parent of the child who responds in opposition to the termination or appointment;

(2) a parent served by citation by publication;

(3) an alleged father who failed to register with the registry under Chapter 160 and whose identity or location is unknown; and

(4) an alleged father who registered with the paternity registry under Chapter 160, but the petitioner's attempt to personally serve citation at the address provided to the registry and at any other address for the alleged father known by the petitioner has been unsuccessful.

(a–1) In a suit described by Subsection (a), if a parent is not represented by an attorney at the parent's first appearance in court, the court shall inform the parent of:

(1) the right to be represented by an attorney; and

(2) if the parent is indigent and appears in opposition to the suit, the right to an attorney ad litem appointed by the court.

(b) If both parents of the child are entitled to the appointment of an attorney ad litem under this section and the court finds that the interests of the parents are not in conflict and that there is no history or pattern of past or present family violence by one parent directed against the other parent, a spouse, or a child of the parties, the court may appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of both parents.

(c) [Repealed]

(d) The court shall require a parent who claims indigence under Subsection (a) to file an affidavit of indigence in accordance with Rule 145(b) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure before the court may conduct a hearing to determine the parent's indigence under this section. The court may consider additional evidence at that hearing, including evidence relating to the parent's income, source of income, assets, property ownership, benefits paid in accordance with a federal, state, or local public assistance program, outstanding obligations, and necessary expenses and the number and ages of the parent's dependents. If the court determines the parent is indigent, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the parent.

(e) A parent who the court has determined is indigent for purposes of this section is presumed to remain indigent for the duration of the suit and any subsequent appeal unless the court, after reconsideration on the motion of the parent, the attorney ad litem for the parent, or the attorney representing the governmental entity, determines that the parent is no longer indigent due to a material and substantial change in the parent's financial circumstances.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0131. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent.

(a) An attorney ad litem appointed under Section 107.013 to represent the interests of a parent:

(1) shall:

(A) subject to Rules 4.02, 4.03, and 4.04, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and within a reasonable time after the appointment, interview:

(i) the parent, unless the parent's location is unknown;

(ii) each person who has significant knowledge of the case; and

(iii) the parties to the suit;

(B) investigate the facts of the case;

(C) to ensure competent representation at hearings, mediations, pretrial matters, and the trial on the merits:

(i) obtain and review copies of all court files in the suit during the attorney ad litem's course of representation; and

(ii) when necessary, conduct formal discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or the discovery control plan;

(D) take any action consistent with the parent's interests that the attorney ad litem considers necessary to expedite the proceedings;

(E) encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution;

(F) review and sign, or decline to sign, a proposed or agreed order affecting the parent;

(G) meet before each court hearing with the parent, unless the court:

(i) finds at that hearing that the attorney ad litem has shown good cause why the attorney ad litem's compliance is not feasible; or

(ii) on a showing of good cause, authorizes the attorney ad litem to comply by

(H) abide by the parent's objectives for representation;

(I) become familiar with the American Bar Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent parents in abuse and neglect cases; and

(J) complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to representing parents in child protection cases as described by Subsection (b) as soon as practicable after the attorney ad litem is appointed, unless the court finds that the attorney ad litem has experience equivalent to that education; and

(2) is entitled to:

(A) request clarification from the court if the role of the attorney ad litem is ambiguous;

(B) request a hearing or trial on the merits;

(C) consent or refuse to consent to an interview of the parent by another attorney;

(D) receive a copy of each pleading or other paper filed with the court;

(E) receive notice of each hearing in the suit;

(F) participate in any case staffing conducted by the Department of Family and Protective Services in which the parent is invited to participate, including, as appropriate, a case staffing to develop a family plan of service, a family group conference, a permanency conference, a mediation, a case staffing to plan for the discharge and return of the child to the parent, and any other case staffing that the department determines would be appropriate for the parent to attend, but excluding any internal department staffing or staffing between the department and the department's legal representative; and

(G) attend all legal proceedings in the suit.

(b) The continuing legal education required by Subsection (a)(1)(J) must:

(1) be low–cost and available to persons throughout this state, including on the Internet provided through the State Bar of Texas; and

(2) focus on the duties of an attorney ad litem in, and the procedures of and best practices for, representing a parent in a proceeding under Subtitle E.

(c) An attorney who is on the list maintained by the court as being qualified for appointment as an attorney ad litem for a parent in a child protection case must complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to the representation of a parent in a proceeding under Subtitle E each year before the anniversary date of the attorney's listing.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0132. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Alleged Father.

(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (d), an attorney ad litem appointed under Section 107.013 to represent the interests of an alleged father is only required to:

(1) conduct an investigation regarding the petitioner's due diligence in locating the alleged father, including by verifying that the petitioner has obtained a certificate of the results of a search of the paternity registry under Chapter 160;

(2) interview any party or other person who has significant knowledge of the case who may have information relating to the identity or location of the alleged father; and

(3) conduct an independent investigation to identify or locate the alleged father, as applicable.

(b) If the attorney ad litem identifies and locates the alleged father, the attorney ad litem shall:

(1) provide to each party and the court the alleged father's name and address and any other locating information; and

(2) if appropriate, request the court's approval for the attorney ad litem to assist the alleged father in establishing paternity.

(c) If the alleged father is adjudicated to be a parent of the child and is determined by the court to be indigent, the court may appoint the attorney ad litem to continue to represent the father's interests as a parent under Section 107.013(a)(1) or (c).

(d) If the attorney ad litem is unable to identify or locate the alleged father, the attorney ad litem shall submit to the court a written summary of the attorney ad litem's efforts to identify or locate the alleged father with a statement that the attorney ad litem was unable to identify or locate the alleged father. On receipt of the summary required by this subsection, the court shall discharge the attorney from the appointment.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0133. Discipline of Attorney Ad Litem for Parent or Alleged Father. An attorney ad litem appointed for a parent or an alleged father who fails to perform the duties required by Section 107.0131 or 107.0132, as applicable, is subject to disciplinary action under Subchapter E, Chapter 81, Government Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.014. Powers and Duties of Attorney Ad Litem for Certain Parents.

(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (e), an attorney ad litem appointed under Section 107.013 to represent the interests of a parent whose identity or location is unknown or who has been served by citation by publication is only required to:

(1) conduct an investigation regarding the petitioner's due diligence in locating the parent;

(2) interview any party or other person who has significant knowledge of the case who may have information relating to the identity or location of the parent; and

(3) conduct an independent investigation to identify or locate the parent, as applicable.

(b) If the attorney ad litem identifies and locates the parent, the attorney ad litem shall:

(1) provide to each party and the court the parent's name and address and any other available locating information unless the court finds that:

(A) disclosure of a parent's address is likely to cause that parent harassment, serious harm, or injury; or

(B) the parent has been a victim of family violence; and

(2) if appropriate, assist the parent in making a claim of indigence for the appointment of an attorney.

(c) If the court makes a finding described by Subsection (b)(1)(A) or (B), the court may:

(1) order that the information not be disclosed; or

(2) render any other order the court considers necessary.

(d) If the court determines the parent is indigent, the court may appoint the attorney ad litem to continue to represent the parent under Section 107.013(a)(1).

(e) If the attorney ad litem is unable to identify or locate the parent, the attorney ad litem shall submit to the court a written summary of the attorney ad litem's efforts to identify or locate the parent with a statement that the attorney ad litem was unable to identify or locate the parent. On receipt of the summary required by this subsection, the court shall discharge the attorney from the appointment.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0141. Temporary Appointment of Attorney Ad Litem for Certain Parents.

(a) The court may appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of a parent for a limited period beginning at the time the court issues a temporary restraining order or attachment of the parent's child under Chapter 262 and ending on the court's determination of whether the parent is indigent before commencement of the full adversary hearing.

(b) An attorney ad litem appointed for a parent under this section:

(1) has the powers and duties of an attorney ad litem appointed under Section 107.0131; and

(2) if applicable, shall:

(A) conduct an investigation regarding the petitioner's due diligence in locating and serving citation on the parent; and

(B) interview any party or other person who may have information relating to the identity or location of the parent.

(c) If the attorney ad litem identifies and locates the parent, the attorney ad litem shall:

(1) inform the parent of the parent's right to be represented by an attorney and of the parent's right to an attorney ad litem appointed by the court, if the parent is indigent and appears in opposition to the suit;

(2) if the parent claims indigence and requests an attorney ad litem beyond the period of the temporary appointment under this section, assist the parent in making a claim of indigence for the appointment of an attorney ad litem; and

(3) assist the parent in preparing for the full adversary hearing under Subchapter C, Chapter 262.

(d) If the court determines the parent is indigent, the court may appoint the attorney ad litem to continue to represent the parent under Section 107.013(a)(1).

(e) If the attorney ad litem is unable to identify or locate the parent, the attorney ad litem shall submit to the court a written summary of the attorney ad litem's efforts to identify or locate the parent with a statement that the attorney ad litem was unable to identify or locate the parent. On receipt of the summary required by this subsection, the court shall discharge the attorney ad litem from the appointment.

(f) If the attorney ad litem identifies or locates the parent, and the court determines that the parent is not indigent, the court shall discharge the attorney ad litem from the appointment.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.015. Attorney Fees.

(a) An attorney appointed under this chapter to serve as an attorney ad litem for a child, an attorney in the dual role, or an attorney ad litem for a parent is entitled to reasonable fees and expenses in the amount set by the court to be paid by the parents of the child unless the parents are indigent.

(b) If the court determines that one or more of the parties are able to defray the fees and expenses of an attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem for the child as determined by the reasonable and customary fees for similar services in the county of jurisdiction, the fees and expenses may be ordered paid by one or more of those parties, or the court may order one or more of those parties, prior to final hearing, to pay the sums into the registry of the court or into an account authorized by the court for the use and benefit of the payee on order of the court. The sums may be taxed as costs to be assessed against one or more of the parties.

(c) If indigency of the parents is shown, an attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child or parent in a suit filed by a governmental entity shall be paid from the general funds of the county according to the fee schedule that applies to an attorney appointed to represent a child in a suit under Title 3 as provided by Chapter 51. The court may not award attorney ad litem fees under this chapter against the state, a state agency, or a political subdivision of the state except as provided by this subsection.

(d) A person appointed as a guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem shall complete and submit to the court a voucher or claim for payment that lists the fees charged and hours worked by the guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem. Information submitted under this section is subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.016. Continued Representation; Duration of Appointment. In a suit filed by a governmental entity in which termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child is requested:

(1) an order appointing the Department of Family and Protective Services as the child's managing conservator may provide for the continuation of the appointment of the guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem for the child for any period set by the court; and

(2) an attorney appointed under this subchapter to serve as an attorney ad litem for a parent or an alleged father continues to serve in that capacity until the earliest of:

(A) the date the suit affecting the parent–child relationship is dismissed;

(B) the date all appeals in relation to any final order terminating parental rights are exhausted or waived; or

(C) the date the attorney is relieved of the attorney's duties or replaced by another attorney after a finding of good cause is rendered by the court on the record.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.0161. Ad Litem Appointments for Child Committed to Texas Juvenile Justice Department. If an order appointing the Department of Family and Protective Services as managing conservator of a child does not continue the appointment of the child's guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem and the child is committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department or released under supervision by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem for the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.017. Appointment of Amicus Attorney Prohibited. The court may not appoint a person to serve as an amicus attorney in a suit filed by a governmental entity under this chapter.

Part 2. Appointments in Suits Other than Suits by Governmental Entity

[Contents]

Sec. 107.021. Discretionary Appointments.

(a) In a suit in which the best interests of a child are at issue, other than a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, the court may appoint one of the following:

(1) an amicus attorney;

(2) an attorney ad litem; or

(3) a guardian ad litem.

(a–1) In a suit requesting termination of the parent–child relationship that is not filed by a governmental entity, the court shall, unless the court finds that the interests of the child will be represented adequately by a party to the suit whose interests are not in conflict with the child's interests, appoint one of the following:

(1) an amicus attorney; or

(2) an attorney ad litem.

(b) In determining whether to make an appointment under this section, the court:

(1) shall:

(A) give due consideration to the ability of the parties to pay reasonable fees to the appointee; and

(B) balance the child's interests against the cost to the parties that would result from an appointment by taking into consideration the cost of available alternatives for resolving issues without making an appointment;

(2) may make an appointment only if the court finds that the appointment is necessary to ensure the determination of the best interests of the child, unless the appointment is otherwise required by this code; and

(3) may not require a person appointed under this section to serve without reasonable compensation for the services rendered by the person.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.022. Certain Prohibited Appointments. In a suit other than a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, the court may not appoint:

(1) an attorney to serve in the dual role; or

(2) a volunteer advocate to serve as guardian ad litem for a child unless the training of the volunteer advocate is designed for participation in suits other than suits filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.023. Fees in Suits Other than Suits by Governmental Entity.

(a) In a suit other than a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, in addition to the attorney's fees that may be awarded under Chapter 106, the following persons are entitled to reasonable fees and expenses in an amount set by the court and ordered to be paid by one or more parties to the suit:

(1) an attorney appointed as an amicus attorney or as an attorney ad litem for the child; and

(2) a professional who holds a relevant professional license and who is appointed as guardian ad litem for the child, other than a volunteer advocate.

(b) The court shall:

(1) determine the fees and expenses of an amicus attorney, an attorney ad litem, or a guardian ad litem by reference to the reasonable and customary fees for similar services in the county of jurisdiction;

(2) order a reasonable cost deposit to be made at the time the court makes the appointment; and

(3) before the final hearing, order an additional amount to be paid to the credit of a trust account for the use and benefit of the amicus attorney, attorney ad litem, or

(c) A court may not award costs, fees, or expenses to an amicus attorney, attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem against the state, a state agency, or a political subdivision of the state under this part.

(d) The court may determine that fees awarded under this subchapter to an amicus attorney, an attorney ad litem for the child, or a guardian ad litem for the child are necessaries for the benefit of the child.

Subch. C. Appointment of Volunteer Advocates

[Contents]

Sec. 107.031. Volunteer Advocates.

(a) In a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, the court may appoint a charitable organization composed of volunteer advocates whose charter mandates the provision of services to allegedly abused and neglected children or an individual who has received the court's approved training regarding abused and neglected children and who has been certified by the court to appear at court hearings as a guardian ad litem for the child or as a volunteer advocate for the child.

(b) In a suit other than a suit filed by a governmental entity requesting termination of the parent–child relationship or appointment of the entity as conservator of the child, the court may appoint a charitable organization composed of volunteer advocates whose training provides for the provision of services in private custody disputes or a person who has received the court's approved training regarding the subject matter of the suit and who has been certified by the court to appear at court hearings as a guardian ad litem for the child or as a volunteer advocate for the child. A person appointed under this subsection is not entitled to fees under Section 107.023.

(c) A court–certified volunteer advocate appointed under this section may be assigned to act as a surrogate parent for the child, as provided by 20 U.S.C. Section 1415(b), if:

(1) the child is in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services;

(2) the volunteer advocate is serving as guardian ad litem for the child; and

(3) a foster parent of the child is not acting as the child's parent under Section 29.015, Education Code.

Subch. D. Child Custody Evaluation

Editor's note: There are two Subchapters F (see below). The section numbering in the first Subchapter F ("Managed Assigned Counsel Program for the Representation of Certain Children and Parents") is duplicative of the numbering in this Subchapter D.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.101. Definitions. In this subchapter:

(1) "Child custody evaluation" means an evaluative process ordered by a court in a contested case through which information, opinions, recommendations, and answers to specific questions asked by the court may be:

(A) made regarding:

(i) conservatorship of a child, including the terms and conditions of conservatorship;

(ii) possession of or access to a child, including the terms and conditions of possession or access; or

(iii) any other issue affecting the best interest of a child; and

(B) made to the court, the parties to the suit, the parties' attorneys, and any other person appointed under this chapter by the court in the suit.

(2) "Child custody evaluator" means an individual who conducts a child custody evaluation under this subchapter. The term includes a private child custody evaluator.

(3) "Department" means the Department of Family and Protective Services.

(4) "Person" includes an agency or a domestic relations office.

(5) "Private child custody evaluator" means a person conducting a child custody evaluation who is not conducting the evaluation as an employee of or contractor with a domestic relations office.

(6) "Supervision" means directing, regularly reviewing, and meeting with a person with respect to the completion of work for which the supervisor is responsible for the outcome. The term does not require the constant physical presence of the person providing supervision and may include telephonic or other electronic communication.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.102. Applicability.

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, a child custody evaluation does not include services provided in accordance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children adopted under Subchapter B, Chapter 162, or an evaluation conducted in accordance with Section 262.114 by an employee of or contractor with the department.

(b) The department may not conduct a child custody evaluation.

(c) Except as provided by Subsections (a) and (b), this subchapter does not apply to the department or to a suit to which the department is a party.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.1025. Effect of Mental Examination. A mental examination described by Rule 204.4, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, does not by itself satisfy the requirements for a child custody evaluation under this subchapter. A mental examination may be included in the report required under this subchapter and relied on by the child custody evaluator to the extent the evaluator considers appropriate under the circumstances.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.103. Order for Child Custody Evaluation.

(a) The court, after notice and hearing or on agreement of the parties, may order the preparation of a child custody evaluation regarding:

(1) the circumstances and condition of:

(A) a child who is the subject of a suit;

(B) a party to a suit; and

(C) the residence of any person requesting conservatorship of, possession of, or access to a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(2) any issue or question relating to the suit at the request of the court before or during the evaluation process.

(b) The court may not appoint a child custody evaluator in a suit involving a nonparent seeking conservatorship of a child unless, after notice and hearing or on agreement of the parties, the court makes a specific finding that good cause has been shown for the appointment of a child custody evaluator.

(c) An order for a child custody evaluation must include:

(1) the name of each person who will conduct the evaluation;

(2) the purpose of the evaluation; and

(3) the specific issues or questions to be addressed in the evaluation.

(d) Except as provided by Section 107.106, each individual who conducts a child custody evaluation must be qualified under Section 107.104.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.104. Child Custody Evaluator: Minimum Qualifications.

(a) In this section:

(1) "Full–time experience" means a period during which an individual works at least 30 hours per week.

(2) "Human services field of study" means a field of study designed to prepare an individual in the disciplined application of counseling, family therapy, psychology, or social work values, principles, and methods.

(b) To be qualified to conduct a child custody evaluation, an individual must:

(1) have at least a master's degree from an accredited college or university in a human services field of study and a license to practice in this state as a social worker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, or psychologist, or have a license to practice medicine in this state and a board certification in psychiatry and:

(A) after completing any degree required by this subdivision, have two years of full–time experience or equivalent part–time experience under professional supervision during which the individual performed functions involving the evaluation of physical, intellectual, social, and psychological functioning and needs and developed an understanding of the social and physical environment, both present and prospective, to meet those needs; and

(B) after obtaining a license required by this subdivision, have performed at least 10 court–ordered child custody evaluations under the supervision of an individual qualified under this section;

(2) meet the requirements of Subdivision (1)(A) and be practicing under the direct supervision of an individual qualified under this section in order to complete at least 10 court–ordered child custody evaluations under supervision; or

(3) be employed by or under contract with a domestic relations office, provided that the individual conducts child custody evaluations relating only to families ordered by a court to participate in child custody evaluations conducted by the domestic relations office.

(c) Notwithstanding Subsections (b)(1) and (2), an individual with a doctoral degree and who holds a license in a human services field of study is qualified to conduct a child custody evaluation if the individual has completed a number of hours of professional development coursework and practice experience directly related to the performance of child custody evaluations as described by this chapter, satisfactory to the licensing agency that issues the individual's license.

(d) The licensing agency that issues a license to an individual described by Subsection (c) may determine by rule that internships, practicums, and other professional preparatory activities completed by the individual during the course of achieving the person's doctoral degree satisfy the requirements of Subsection (c) in whole or in part.

(e) In addition to the qualifications prescribed by this section, an individual must complete at least eight hours of family violence dynamics training provided by a family violence service provider to be qualified to conduct a child custody evaluation under this subchapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.105. Child Custody Evaluation: Specialized Training Required.

(a) The court shall determine whether the qualifications of a child custody evaluator satisfy the requirements of this subchapter.

(b) A child custody evaluator must demonstrate, if requested, appropriate knowledge and competence in child custody evaluation services consistent with professional models, standards, and guidelines.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.106. Exception to Qualifications Required to Conduct Child Custody Evaluation.

(a) In a county with a population of less than 500,000, if a court finds that an individual who meets the requirements of Section 107.104 is not available in the county to conduct a child custody evaluation in a timely manner, the court, after notice and hearing or on agreement of the parties, may appoint an individual the court determines to be otherwise qualified to conduct the evaluation.

(b) An individual appointed under this section shall comply with all provisions of this subchapter, other than Section 107.104.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.107. Child Custody Evaluator: Conflicts of Interest and Bias.

(a) Before accepting appointment as a child custody evaluator in a suit, a person must disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney:

(1) any conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with any party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(2) any previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit, other than knowledge obtained in a court–ordered evaluation;

(3) any pecuniary relationship that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit;

(4) any relationship of confidence or trust that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit; and

(5) any other information relating to the person's relationship with an attorney in the suit that a reasonable, prudent person would believe would affect the ability of the person to act impartially in conducting a child custody evaluation.

(b) The court may not appoint a person as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (a) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant;

(C) the person does not have a pecuniary relationship with an attorney in the suit; and

(D) the person does not have a relationship of trust or confidence with an attorney in the suit; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's appointment as the child custody evaluator.

(c) After being appointed as a child custody evaluator in a suit, a person shall immediately disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney any discovery of:

(1) a conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(2) previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit, other than knowledge obtained in a court–ordered evaluation.

(d) A person shall resign from the person's appointment as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (c) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's continued appointment as the child custody evaluator.

(e) A child custody evaluator who has previously conducted a child custody evaluation for a suit may conduct all subsequent evaluations in the suit unless the court finds that the evaluator is biased.

(f) An individual may not be appointed as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the individual has worked in a professional capacity with a party to the suit, a child who is the subject of the suit, or a member of the party's or child's family who is involved in the suit. This subsection does not apply to an individual who has worked in a professional capacity with a party, a child, or a member of the party's or child's family only as a teacher of parenting skills in a group setting, with no individualized interaction with any party, the child, any party's family, or the child's family, or as a child custody evaluator who performed a previous evaluation. A child custody evaluator who has worked as a teacher of parenting skills in a group setting that included a party, a child, or another person who will be the subject of an evaluation or has worked as a child custody evaluator for a previous evaluation must notify the court and the attorney of each represented party or, if a party is not represented, the evaluator must notify the party. For purposes of this subsection, "family" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.108. General Provisions Applicable to Conduct of Child Custody Evaluation and Preparation of Report.

(a) Unless otherwise directed by a court or prescribed by a provision of this title, a child custody evaluator's actions in conducting a child custody evaluation must be in conformance with the professional standard of care applicable to the evaluator's licensure and any administrative rules, ethical standards, or guidelines adopted by the licensing authority that licenses the evaluator.

(b) A court may impose requirements or adopt local rules applicable to a child custody evaluation or a child custody evaluator that do not conflict with this subchapter.

(c) A child custody evaluator shall follow evidence–based practice methods and make use of current best evidence in making assessments and recommendations.

(d) A child custody evaluator shall disclose to each attorney of record any communication regarding a substantive issue between the evaluator and an attorney of record representing a party in a contested suit. This subsection does not apply to a communication between a child custody evaluator and an attorney ad litem or amicus attorney.

(e) To the extent possible, a child custody evaluator shall verify each statement of fact pertinent to a child custody evaluation and shall note the sources of verification and information in the child custody evaluation report prepared under Section 107.113.

(f) A child custody evaluator shall state the basis for the evaluator's conclusions or recommendations, and the extent to which information obtained limits the reliability and validity of the opinion and the conclusions and recommendations of the evaluator, in the child custody evaluation report prepared under Section 107.113. A child custody evaluator who has evaluated only one side of a contested suit shall refrain from making a recommendation regarding conservatorship of a child or possession of or access to a child, but may state whether any information obtained regarding a child's placement with a party indicates concerns for:

(1) the safety of the child;

(2) the party's parenting skills or capability;

(3) the party's relationship with the child; or

(4) the mental health of the party.

(g) A child custody evaluation must be conducted in compliance with this subchapter, regardless of whether the child custody evaluation is conducted:

(1) by a single child custody evaluator or multiple evaluators working separately or together; or

(2) within a county served by the court with continuing jurisdiction or at a geographically distant location.

(h) A child custody evaluation report must include for each child custody evaluator who conducted any portion of the child custody evaluation:

(1) the name and license number of the child custody evaluator; and

(2) a statement that the child custody evaluator:

(A) has read and meets the requirements of Section 107.104; or

(B) was appointed under Section 107.106.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.109. Elements of Child Custody Evaluation.

(a) A child custody evaluator may not offer an opinion regarding conservatorship of a child who is the subject of a suit or possession of or access to the child unless each basic element of a child custody evaluation as described by this section has been completed.

(b) A child custody evaluator shall:

(1) identify in the report required by Section 107.113 any basic element or any additional element of a child custody evaluation described by this section that was not completed;

(2) explain the reasons the element was not completed; and

(3) include an explanation of the likely effect of the missing element on the confidence the child custody evaluator has in the evaluator's expert opinion.

(c) The basic elements of a child custody evaluation under this subchapter consist of:

(1) a personal interview of each party to the suit;

(2) interviews, conducted in a developmentally appropriate manner, of each child who is the subject of the suit, regardless of the age of the child, during a period of possession of each party to the suit but outside the presence of the party;

(3) observation of each child who is the subject of the suit, regardless of the age of the child, in the presence of each party to the suit, including, as appropriate, during supervised visitation, unless contact between a party and a child is prohibited by court order or the person conducting the evaluation has good cause for not conducting the observation and states the good cause in writing provided to the parties to the suit before the completion of the evaluation;

(4) an observation and, if the child is at least four years old, an interview of any child who is not a subject of the suit who lives on a full–time basis in a residence that is the subject of the evaluation, including with other children or parties who are subjects of the evaluation, where appropriate;

(5) the obtaining of information from relevant collateral sources, including the review of:

(A) relevant school records;

(B) relevant physical and mental health records of each party to the suit and each child who is the subject of the suit;

(C) relevant records of the department obtained under Section 107.111;

(D) criminal history information relating to each child who is the subject of the suit, each party to the suit, and each person who lives with a party to the suit; and

(E) any other collateral source that may have relevant information;

(6) evaluation of the home environment of each party seeking conservatorship of a child who is the subject of the suit or possession of or access to the child, unless the condition of the home environment is identified as not being in dispute in the court order requiring the child custody evaluation;

(7) for each individual residing in a residence subject to the child custody evaluation, consideration of any criminal history information and any contact with the department or a law enforcement agency regarding abuse or neglect; and

(8) assessment of the relationship between each child who is the subject of the suit and each party seeking possession of or access to the child.

(d) The additional elements of a child custody evaluation under this subchapter consist of:

(1) balanced interviews and observations of each child who is the subject of the suit so that a child who is interviewed or observed while in the care of one party to the suit is also interviewed or observed while in the care of each other party to the suit;

(2) an interview of each individual, including a child who is at least four years of age, residing on a full–time or part–time basis in a residence subject to the child custody evaluation;

(3) evaluation of the home environment of each party seeking conservatorship of a child who is the subject of the suit or possession of or access to the child, regardless of whether the home environment is in dispute;

(4) observation of a child who is the subject of the suit with each adult who lives in a residence that is the subject of the evaluation;

(5) an interview, if the child is at least four years of age, and observation of a child who is not the subject of the suit but who lives on a full–time or part–time basis in a residence that is the subject of the evaluation;

(6) psychometric testing, if necessary, consistent with Section 107.110; and

(7) the performance of other tasks requested of the evaluator by the court, including:

(A) a joint interview of the parties to the suit; or

(B) the review of any other information that the court determines is relevant.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.110. Psychometric Testing.

(a) A child custody evaluator may conduct psychometric testing as part of a child custody evaluation if:

(1) ordered by the court or determined necessary by the child custody evaluator; and

(2) the child custody evaluator is:

(A) appropriately licensed and trained to administer and interpret the specific psychometric tests selected; and

(B) trained in the specialized forensic application of psychometric testing.

(b) Selection of a specific psychometric test is at the professional discretion of the child custody evaluator based on the specific issues raised in the suit.

(c) A child custody evaluator may only use psychometric tests if the evaluator is familiar with the reliability, validation, and related standardization or outcome studies of, and proper applications and use of, the tests within a forensic setting.

(d) If a child custody evaluator considers psychometric testing necessary but lacks specialized training or expertise to use the specific tests under this section, the evaluator may designate a licensed psychologist to conduct the testing.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.1101. Effect of Potentially Undiagnosed Serious Mental Illness.

(a) In this section, "serious mental illness" has the meaning assigned by Section 1355.001, Insurance Code.

(b) If a child custody evaluator identifies the presence of a potentially undiagnosed serious mental illness experienced by an individual who is a subject of the child custody evaluation and the evaluator is not qualified by the evaluator's licensure, experience, and training to assess a serious mental illness, the evaluator shall make one or more appropriate referrals for a mental examination of the individual.

(c) The child custody evaluation report must include any information that the evaluator considers appropriate under the circumstances regarding the possible effects of an individual's potentially undiagnosed serious mental illness on the evaluation and the evaluator's recommendations.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.111. Child Custody Evaluator Access to Investigative Records of Department; Offense.

(a) A child custody evaluator appointed by a court is entitled to obtain from the department a complete, unredacted copy of any investigative record regarding abuse or neglect that relates to any person residing in the residence subject to the child custody evaluation.

(b) Except as provided by this section, records obtained by a child custody evaluator from the department under this section are confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or to disclosure in response to a subpoena or a discovery request.

(c) A child custody evaluator may disclose information obtained under Subsection (a) in the child custody evaluation report prepared under Section 107.113 only to the extent the evaluator determines that the information is relevant to the child custody evaluation or a recommendation made under this subchapter.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person recklessly discloses confidential information obtained from the department in violation of this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.112. Communications and Recordkeeping of Child Custody Evaluator.

(a) Notwithstanding any rule, standard of care, or privilege applicable to the professional license held by a child custody evaluator, a communication made by a participant in a child custody evaluation is subject to disclosure and may be offered in any judicial or administrative proceeding if otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence.

(b) A child custody evaluator shall:

(1) keep a detailed record of interviews that the evaluator conducts, observations that the evaluator makes, and substantive interactions that the evaluator has as part of a child custody evaluation; and

(2) maintain the evaluator's records consistent with applicable laws, including rules applicable to the evaluator's license.

(c) Except for records obtained from the department in accordance with Section 107.111, a private child custody evaluator shall, after completion of an evaluation and the preparation and filing of a child custody evaluation report under Section 107.113, make available in a reasonable time the evaluator's records relating to the evaluation on the written request of an attorney for a party, a party who does not have an attorney, and any person appointed under this chapter in the suit in which the evaluator conducted the evaluation, unless a court has issued an order restricting disclosure of the records.

(d) Except for records obtained from the department in accordance with Section 107.111, records relating to a child custody evaluation conducted by an employee of or contractor with a domestic relations office shall, after completion of the evaluation and the preparation and filing of a child custody evaluation report under Section 107.113, be made available on written request according to the local rules and policies of the office.

(e) A person maintaining records subject to disclosure under this section may charge a reasonable fee for producing the records before copying the records.

(f) A private child custody evaluator shall retain all records relating to a child custody evaluation conducted by the evaluator until the ending date of the retention period adopted by the licensing authority that issues the professional license held by the evaluator based on the date the evaluator filed the child custody evaluation report prepared under this section with the court.

(g) A domestic relations office shall retain records relating to a child custody evaluation conducted by a child custody evaluator acting as an employee of or contractor with the office for the retention period established by the office.

(h) A person who participates in a child custody evaluation is not a patient as that term is defined by Section 611.001(1), Health and Safety Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.113. Child Custody Evaluation Report Required.

(a) A child custody evaluator who conducts a child custody evaluation shall prepare and file a report containing the evaluator's findings, opinions, recommendations, and answers to specific questions asked by the court relating to the evaluation.

(b) The person conducting a child custody evaluation shall file with the court on a date set by the court a report containing the person's findings and conclusions. The report shall be made a part of the record of the suit.

(c) If the suit is settled before completion of the child custody evaluation report, the report under this section is not required.

(d) A report prepared under this section must include the information required by Section 107.108(h) for each child custody evaluator who conducted any portion of the evaluation.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.114. Introduction and Provision of Child Custody Evaluation Report.

(a) Disclosure to the jury of the contents of a child custody evaluation report prepared under Section 107.113 is subject to the rules of evidence.

(b) Unless the court has rendered an order restricting disclosure, a private child custody evaluator shall provide to the attorneys of the parties to a suit, any party who does not have an attorney, and any other person appointed by the court under this chapter in a suit a copy of the child custody evaluation report before the earlier of:

(1) the third day after the date the child custody evaluation report is completed; or

(2) the 30th day before the date of commencement of the trial.

(c) A child custody evaluator who conducts a child custody evaluation as an employee of or under contract with a domestic relations office shall provide to the attorneys of the parties to a suit and any person appointed in the suit under this chapter a copy of the child custody evaluation report before the earlier of:

(1) the seventh day after the date the child custody evaluation report is completed; or

(2) the fifth day before the date the trial commences.

(d) A child custody evaluator who conducts a child custody evaluation as an employee of or under contract with a domestic relations office shall provide a copy of the report to a party to the suit as provided by the local rules and policies of the office or by a court order.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.115. Child Custody Evaluation Fee. If the court orders a child custody evaluation to be conducted, the court shall award the person appointed as the child custody evaluator a reasonable fee for the preparation of the child custody evaluation that shall be imposed in the form of a money judgment and paid directly to the person. The person may enforce the judgment for the fee by any means available under law for civil judgments.

[First] Subch. E. Office of Child Representation and Office of Parent Representation

Editor's note: There are two Subchapters E. The other one (following this one) is titled "Adoption Evaluation."

[Contents]

Sec. 107.061. Definition. In this subchapter, "governmental entity" includes a county, a group of counties, a department of a county, an administrative judicial region created by Section 74.042, Government Code, and any entity created under the Interlocal Cooperation Act as permitted by Chapter 791, Government Code.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.062. Applicability. This subchapter applies to a suit filed by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for a child in which appointment of an attorney is required under Section 107.012 or 107.013.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.063. Nonprofit Funding. This subchapter does not limit or prevent a nonprofit corporation from receiving and using money obtained from other entities to provide legal representation and services as authorized by this subchapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.064. Office of Child Representation. An office of child representation is an entity that uses public money to provide legal representation and services for a child in a suit filed by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for the child in which appointment is mandatory for a child under Section 107.012.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.065. Office of Parent Representation. An office of parent representation is an entity that uses public money to provide legal representation and services for a parent in a suit filed by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for a child in which appointment is mandatory for a parent under Section 107.013.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.066. Creation of Office of Child Representation or Office of Parent Representation.

(a) An office described by Section 107.064 or 107.065 may be a governmental entity or a nonprofit corporation operating under a written agreement with a governmental entity, other than an individual judge or court.

(b) The commissioners court of any county, on written approval of a judge of a statutory county court or a district court having family law jurisdiction in the county, may create an office of child representation, an office of parent representation, or both offices by establishing a department of the county or designating under a contract a nonprofit corporation to perform the duties of an office.

(c) The commissioners courts of two or more counties may enter into a written agreement to jointly create and jointly fund a regional office of child representation, a regional office of parent representation, or both regional offices.

(d) In creating an office of child representation or office of parent representation under this section, the commissioners court shall specify or the commissioners courts shall jointly specify, as applicable:

(1) the duties of the office;

(2) the types of cases to which the office may be appointed under this chapter and the courts in which an attorney employed by the office may be required to appear;

(3) if the office is a nonprofit corporation, the term during which the contract designating the office is effective and how that contract may be renewed on expiration of the term; and

(4) if an oversight board is established under Section 107.072 for the office, the powers and duties that have been delegated to the oversight board.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.067. Nonprofit as Office.

(a) Before contracting with a nonprofit corporation to serve as an office of child representation or office of parent representation, the commissioners court or commissioners courts, as applicable, must solicit proposals for the office.

(b) After considering each proposal for an office of child representation or office of parent representation submitted by a nonprofit corporation, the commissioners court or commissioners courts, as applicable, shall select a proposal that reasonably demonstrates that the office will provide adequate quality representation for children for whom appointed counsel is required under Section 107.012 or for parents for whom appointed counsel is required under Section 107.013, as applicable.

(c) The total cost of the proposal may not be the sole consideration in selecting a proposal.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.068. Plan of Operation for Office. The applicable commissioners court or commissioners courts shall require a written plan of operation from an entity serving as an office of child representation or office of parent representation. The plan must include:

(1) a budget for the office, including salaries;

(2) a description of each personnel position, including the chief counsel position;

(3) the maximum allowable caseloads for each attorney employed by the office;

(4) provisions for training personnel and attorneys employed by the office;

(5) a description of anticipated overhead costs for the office;

(6) policies regarding the use of licensed investigators and expert witnesses by the office; and

(7) a policy to ensure that the chief of the office and other attorneys employed by the office do not provide representation to a child, a parent, or an alleged father, as applicable, if doing so would create a conflict of interest.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.069. Office Personnel.

(a) An office of child representation or office of parent representation must be directed by a chief counsel who:

(1) is a member of the State Bar of Texas;

(2) has practiced law for at least three years; and

(3) has substantial experience in the practice of child welfare law.

(b) An office of child representation or office of parent representation may employ attorneys, licensed investigators, licensed social workers, and other personnel necessary to perform the duties of the office as specified by the commissioners court or commissioners courts.

(c) An attorney for the office of child representation or office of parent representation must comply with any applicable continuing education and training requirements of Sections 107.004 and 107.0131 before accepting representation.

(d) Except as authorized by this chapter, the chief counsel and other attorneys employed by an office of child representation or office of parent representation may not:

(1) engage in the private practice of child welfare law; or

(2) accept anything of value not authorized by this chapter for services rendered under this chapter.

(e) A judge may remove from a case a person who violates Subsection (d).

[Contents]

Sec. 107.070. Appointments in County in Which Office Created.

(a) If there is an office of child representation or office of parent representation serving a county, a court in that county shall appoint for a child or parent, as applicable, an attorney from the office in a suit filed in the county by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for the child, unless there is a conflict of interest or other reason to appoint a different attorney from the list maintained by the court of attorneys qualified for appointment under Section 107.012 or 107.013.

(b) An office of child representation or office of parent representation may not accept an appointment if:

(1) a conflict of interest exists;

(2) the office has insufficient resources to provide adequate representation;

(3) the office is incapable of providing representation in accordance with the rules of professional conduct;

(4) the appointment would require one or more attorneys at the office to have a caseload that exceeds the maximum allowable caseload; or

(5) the office shows other good cause for not accepting the appointment.

(c) An office of parent representation may investigate the financial condition of any person the office is appointed to represent under Section 107.013. The office shall report the results of the investigation to the appointing judge. The judge may hold a hearing to determine if the person is indigent and entitled to appointment of representation under Section 107.013.

(d) If it is necessary to appoint an attorney who is not employed by an office of child representation or office of parent representation for one or more parties, the attorney is entitled to the compensation provided by Section 107.015.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.071. Funding of Office. An office of child representation or office of parent representation is entitled to receive money for personnel costs and expenses incurred in operating as an office in amounts set by the commissioners court and paid out of the appropriate county fund, or jointly fixed by the commissioners courts and proportionately paid out of each appropriate county fund if the office serves more than one county.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.072. Oversight Board.

(a) The commissioners court of a county or the commissioners courts of two or more counties may establish an oversight board for an office of child representation or office of parent representation created in accordance with this subchapter.

(b) A commissioners court that establishes an oversight board under this section shall appoint members of the board. Members may include one or more of the following:

(1) an attorney with substantial experience in child welfare law;

(2) the judge of a trial court having family law jurisdiction in the county or counties for which the office was created;

(3) a county commissioner; and

(4) a county judge.

(c) A commissioners court may delegate to the oversight board any power or duty of the commissioners court to provide oversight of an office of child representation or office of parent representation under this subchapter, including:

(1) recommending selection and removal of a chief counsel of the office;

(2) setting policy for the office; and

(3) developing a budget proposal for the office.

(d) An oversight board established under this section may not access privileged or confidential information.

(e) A judge who serves on an oversight board under this section has judicial immunity in a suit arising from the performance of a power or duty described by Subsection (c).

[Second] Subch. E. Adoption Evaluation

Editor's note: There are two Subchapters E. The other one (above) is titled "Office of Child Representation and Office of Parent Representation."

[Contents]

Sec. 107.151. Definitions. In this subchapter:

(1) "Adoption evaluation" means a pre–placement or post–placement evaluative process through which information and recommendations regarding adoption of a child may be made to the court, the parties, and the parties' attorneys.

(2) "Adoption evaluator" means a person who conducts an adoption evaluation under this subchapter.

(3) "Department" means the Department of Family and Protective Services.

(4) "Supervision" means directing, regularly reviewing, and meeting with a person with respect to the completion of work for which the supervisor is responsible for the outcome. The term does not require the constant physical presence of the person providing supervision and may include telephonic or other electronic communication.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.152. Applicability.

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, an adoption evaluation does not include services provided in accordance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children adopted under Subchapter B, Chapter 162, or an evaluation conducted in accordance with Section 262.114 by an employee of or contractor with the department.

(b) This subchapter does not apply to the pre–placement and post–placement parts of an adoption evaluation conducted by a licensed child–placing agency or the department.

(c) The pre–placement and post–placement parts of an adoption evaluation conducted by a licensed child–placing agency or the department are governed by rules adopted by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.

(d) In a suit involving a licensed child–placing agency or the department, a licensed child–placing agency or the department shall conduct the pre–placement and post–placement parts of the adoption evaluation and file reports on those parts with the court before the court renders a final order of adoption.

(e) A court may appoint the department to conduct the pre–placement and post–placement parts of an adoption evaluation in a suit only if the department is:

(1) a party to the suit; or

(2) the managing conservator of the child who is the subject of the suit.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.153. Order for Adoption Evaluation.

(a) The court shall order the performance of an adoption evaluation to evaluate each party who requests termination of the parent–child relationship or an adoption in a suit for:

(1) termination of the parent–child relationship in which a person other than a parent may be appointed managing conservator of a child; or

(2) an adoption.

(b) The adoption evaluation required under Subsection (a) must include an evaluation of the circumstances and the condition of the home and social environment of any person requesting to adopt a child who is at issue in the suit.

(c) The court may appoint a qualified individual, a qualified private entity, or a domestic relations office to conduct the adoption evaluation.

(d) Except as provided by Section 107.155, a person who conducts an adoption evaluation must meet the requirements of Section 107.154.

(e) The costs of an adoption evaluation under this section shall be paid by the prospective adoptive parent.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.154. Adoption Evaluator: Minimum Qualifications.

(a) In this section:

(1) "Full–time experience" means a period during which a person works at least 30 hours per week.

(2) "Human services field of study" means a field of study designed to prepare a person in the disciplined application of counseling, family therapy, psychology, or social work values, principles, and methods.

(b) To be qualified to conduct an adoption evaluation under this subchapter, a person must:

(1) have a degree from an accredited college or university in a human services field of study and a license to practice in this state as a social worker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, or psychologist and:

(A) have one year of full–time experience working at a child–placing agency conducting child–placing activities; or

(B) be practicing under the direct supervision of a person qualified under this section to conduct adoption evaluations;

(2) be employed by a domestic relations office, provided that the person conducts adoption evaluations relating only to families ordered to participate in adoption evaluations conducted by the domestic relations office; or

(3) be qualified as a child custody evaluator under Section 107.104.

(c) In addition to the other qualifications prescribed by this section, an individual must complete at least eight hours of family violence dynamics training provided by a family violence service provider to be qualified to conduct an adoption evaluation under this subchapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.155. Exception to Qualifications Required to Conduct Adoption Evaluation.

(a) In a county with a population of less than 500,000, if a court finds that an individual who meets the requirements of Section 107.154 is not available in the county to conduct an adoption evaluation in a timely manner, the court, after notice and hearing or on agreement of the parties, may appoint a person the court determines to be otherwise qualified to conduct the evaluation.

(b) An individual appointed under this section shall comply with all provisions of this subchapter, other than Section 107.154.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.156. Adoption Evaluator: Conflicts of Interest and Bias.

(a) Before accepting appointment as an adoption evaluator in a suit, a person must disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney:

(1) any conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(2) any previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(3) any pecuniary relationship that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit;

(4) any relationship of confidence or trust that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit; and

(5) any other information relating to the person's relationship with an attorney in the suit that a reasonable, prudent person would believe would affect the ability of the person to act impartially in conducting an adoption evaluation.

(b) The court may not appoint a person as an adoption evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (a) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant;

(C) the person does not have a pecuniary relationship with an attorney in the suit; and

(D) the person does not have a relationship of trust or confidence with an attorney in the suit; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's appointment as the adoption evaluator.

(c) After being appointed as an adoption evaluator in a suit, a person shall immediately disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney any discovery of:

(1) a conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(2) previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit, other than knowledge obtained in a court–ordered evaluation.

(d) A person shall resign from the person's appointment as an adoption evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (c) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's continued appointment as the adoption evaluator.

(e) An individual may not be appointed as an adoption evaluator in a suit if the individual has worked in a professional capacity with a party to the suit, a child who is the subject of the suit, or a member of the party's or child's family who is involved in the suit. This subsection does not apply to an individual who has worked in a professional capacity with a party, a child, or a member of the party's or child's family only as a teacher of parenting skills in a group setting, with no individualized interaction with any party, the child, any party's family, or the child's family, or as a child custody evaluator or adoption evaluator who performed a previous evaluation. For purposes of this subsection, "family" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.157. Reporting Certain Placements for Adoption. An adoption evaluator shall report to the department any adoptive placement that appears to have been made by someone other than a licensed child–placing agency or a child's parent or managing conservator.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.158. General Provisions Applicable to Conduct of Adoption Evaluator and Preparation of Reports.

(a) Unless otherwise directed by a court or prescribed by this subchapter, an adoption evaluator's actions in conducting an adoption evaluation must be in conformance with the professional standard of care applicable to the evaluator's licensure and any administrative rules, ethical standards, or guidelines adopted by the licensing authority that licenses the evaluator.

(b) A court may impose requirements or adopt local rules applicable to an adoption evaluation or an adoption evaluator that do not conflict with this subchapter.

(c) An adoption evaluator shall follow evidence–based practice methods and make use of current best evidence in making assessments and recommendations.

(d) An adoption evaluator shall disclose to each attorney of record any communication regarding a substantive issue between the evaluator and an attorney of record representing a party in a contested suit. This subsection does not apply to a communication between an adoption evaluator and an amicus attorney.

(e) To the extent possible, an adoption evaluator shall verify each statement of fact pertinent to an adoption evaluation and shall note the sources of verification and information in any report prepared on the evaluation.

(f) An adoption evaluator shall state the basis for the evaluator's conclusions or recommendations in any report prepared on the evaluation.

(g) An adoption evaluation report must include for each adoption evaluator who conducted any portion of the adoption evaluation:

(1) the name and license number of the adoption evaluator; and

(2) a statement that the adoption evaluator:

(A) has read and meets the requirements of Section 107.154; or

(B) was appointed under Section 107.155.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.159. Requirements for Pre–Placement Portion of Adoption Evaluation and Report.

(a) Unless otherwise agreed to by the court, the pre–placement part of an adoption evaluation must comply with the minimum requirements for the pre–placement part of an adoption evaluation under rules adopted by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.

(b) Unless a child who is the subject of the suit begins to reside in a prospective adoptive home before the suit is commenced, an adoption evaluator shall file with the court a report containing the evaluator's findings and conclusions made after completion of the pre–placement portion of the adoption evaluation.

(c) In a suit filed after the date a child who is the subject of the suit begins to reside in a prospective adoptive home, the report required under this section and the post–placement adoption evaluation report required under Section 107.160 may be combined in a single report.

(d) The report required under this section must be filed with the court before the court may sign the final order for termination of the parent–child relationship. The report shall be included in the record of the suit.

(e) A copy of the report prepared under this section must be made available to the prospective adoptive parents before the court renders a final order of adoption.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.160. Requirements for Post–Placement Portion of Adoption Evaluation and Report.

(a) Unless otherwise agreed to by the court, the post–placement part of an adoption evaluation must comply with the minimum requirements for the post–placement part of an adoption evaluation under rules adopted by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.

(b) An adoption evaluator shall file with the court a report containing the evaluator's findings and conclusions made after a child who is the subject of the suit in which the evaluation is ordered begins to reside in a prospective adoptive home.

(c) The report required under this section must be filed with the court before the court renders a final order of adoption. The report shall be included in the record of the suit.

(d) A copy of the report prepared under this section must be made available to the prospective adoptive parents before the court renders a final order of adoption.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.161. Introduction and Provision of Adoption Evaluation Report and Testimony Relating to Adoption Evaluation.

(a) Disclosure to the jury of the contents of an adoption evaluation report prepared under Section 107.159 or 107.160 is subject to the rules of evidence.

(b) The court may compel the attendance of witnesses necessary for the proper disposition of a suit, including a representative of an agency that conducts an adoption evaluation, who may be compelled to testify.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.162. Adoption Evaluation Fee. If the court orders an adoption evaluation to be conducted, the court shall award the adoption evaluator a reasonable fee for the preparation of the evaluation that shall be imposed in the form of a money judgment and paid directly to the evaluator. The evaluator may enforce the judgment for the fee by any means available under law for civil judgments.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.163. Adoption Evaluator Access to Investigative Records of Department; Offense.

(a) An adoption evaluator is entitled to obtain from the department a complete, unredacted copy of any investigative record regarding abuse or neglect that relates to any person residing in the residence subject to the adoption evaluation.

(b) Except as provided by this section, records obtained by an adoption evaluator from the department under this section are confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or to disclosure in response to a subpoena or a discovery request.

(c) An adoption evaluator may disclose information obtained under Subsection (a) in the adoption evaluation report prepared under Section 107.159 or 107.160 only to the extent the evaluator determines that the information is relevant to the adoption evaluation or a recommendation made under this subchapter.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person recklessly discloses confidential information obtained from the department in violation of this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

[First] Subch. F. Managed Assigned Counsel Program for the Representation of Certain Children and Parents

Editor's note: There are two Subchapters F. The section numbering in this first Subchapter F ("Managed Assigned Counsel Program for the Representation of Certain Children and Parents") is duplicative of the numbering in Subchapter D above ("Child Custody Evaluation").

[Contents]

Sec. 107.101. Definitions. In this subchapter:

(1) "Governmental entity" includes a county, a group of counties, a department of a county, an administrative judicial region created by Section 74.042, Government Code, and any entity created under the Interlocal Cooperation Act as permitted by Chapter 791, Government Code.

(2) "Program" means a managed assigned counsel program created under this subchapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.102. Managed Assigned Counsel Program.

(a) A managed assigned counsel program may be operated with public money for the purpose of appointing counsel to provide legal representation and services for a child or parent in a suit filed by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for the child in which appointment is mandatory for a child under Section 107.012 or for a parent under Section 107.013.

(b) The program may be operated by a governmental entity, nonprofit corporation, or local bar association under a written agreement with a governmental entity, other than an individual judge or court.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.103. Creation of Managed Assigned Counsel Program.

(a) The commissioners court of a county, on written approval of a judge of a statutory county court or a district court having family law jurisdiction in the county, may appoint a governmental entity, nonprofit corporation, or local bar association to operate a managed assigned counsel program for the legal representation of:

(1) a child in a suit in which appointment is mandatory under Section 107.012; or

(2) a parent in a suit in which appointment is mandatory under Section 107.013.

(b) The commissioners courts of two or more counties may enter into a written agreement to jointly appoint and fund a governmental entity, nonprofit corporation, or bar association to operate a program that provides legal representation for children, parents, or both children and parents.

(c) In appointing an entity to operate a program under this subchapter, the commissioners court shall specify or the commissioners courts shall jointly specify:

(1) the types of cases in which the program may appoint counsel under this section, and the courts in which the counsel appointed by the program may be required to appear; and

(2) the term of any agreement establishing a program and how the agreement may be terminated or renewed.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.104. Plan for Program Required. The commissioners court or commissioners courts shall require a written plan of operation from an entity operating a program under this subchapter. The plan of operation must include:

(1) a budget for the program, including salaries;

(2) a description of each personnel position, including the program's director;

(3) the maximum allowable caseload for each attorney appointed under the program;

(4) provisions for training personnel of the program and attorneys appointed under the program;

(5) a description of anticipated overhead costs for the program;

(6) a policy regarding licensed investigators and expert witnesses used by attorneys appointed under the program;

(7) a policy to ensure that appointments are reasonably and impartially allocated among qualified attorneys; and

(8) a policy to ensure that an attorney appointed under the program does not accept appointment in a case that involves a conflict of interest for the attorney.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.105. Program Director; Personnel.

(a) Unless a program uses a review committee appointed under Section 107.106, a program under this subchapter must be directed by a person who:

(1) is a member of the State Bar of Texas;

(2) has practiced law for at least three years; and

(3) has substantial experience in the practice of child welfare law.

(b) A program may employ personnel necessary to perform the duties of the program and enter into contracts necessary to perform the program's duties as specified by the commissioners court or commissioners courts under this subchapter.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.106. Review Committee.

(a) The governmental entity, nonprofit corporation, or local bar association operating a program may appoint a review committee of three or more individuals to approve attorneys for inclusion on the program's public appointment list.

(b) Each member of the committee:

(1) must meet the requirements described by Section 107.105(a) for the program director;

(2) may not be employed as a prosecutor; and

(3) may not be included on or apply for inclusion on the public appointment list.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.107. Appointment from Program's Public Appointment List.

(a) The judge of a county served by a program shall make any appointment required under Section 107.012 or 107.013 in a suit filed in the county by a governmental entity seeking termination of the parent–child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for the child from the program's public appointment list, unless there is a conflict of interest or other reason to appoint a different attorney from the list maintained by the court of attorneys qualified for appointment under Section 107.012 or 107.013.

(b) The program's public appointment list from which an attorney is appointed under this section must contain the names of qualified attorneys, each of whom:

(1) applies to be included on the list;

(2) meets any applicable requirements, including any education and training programs required under Sections 107.004 and 107.0131; and

(3) is approved by the program director or review committee, as applicable.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.108. Funding of Program.

(a) A program is entitled to receive money for personnel costs and expenses incurred in amounts set by the commissioners court and paid out of the appropriate county fund or jointly fixed by the commissioners courts and proportionately paid out of each appropriate county fund if the program serves more than one county.

(b) An attorney appointed under the program is entitled to reasonable fees as provided by Section 107.015.

[Second] Subch. F. Evaluations in Contested Adoptions

Editor's note: There are two Subchapters F. The other Section F (above) is titled "Managed Assigned Counsel Program for the Representation of Certain Children and Parents."

[Contents]

Sec. 107.201. Applicability. This subchapter does not apply to services provided in accordance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children adopted under Subchapter B, Chapter 162, to an evaluation conducted in accordance with Section 262.114 by an employee of or contractor with the department, or to a suit in which the Department of Family and Protective Services is a party.

[Contents]

Sec. 107.202. Assignment of Evaluations in Contested Adoptions.

(a) In a suit in which the adoption of a child is being contested, the court shall determine the nature of the questions posed before appointing an evaluator to conduct either a child custody evaluation or an adoption evaluation.

(b) If the court is attempting to determine whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of a child who is the subject of the suit, the court shall order the evaluation as a child custody evaluation under Subchapter D and include termination as one of the specific issues to be addressed in the evaluation.

(c) When appointing an evaluator to assess the issue of termination of parental rights, the court may, through written order, modify the requirements of the child custody evaluation to take into account the circumstances of the family to be assessed. The court may also appoint the evaluator to concurrently address the requirements for an adoption evaluation under Subchapter E if the evaluator recommends that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child who is the subject of the suit.

(d) If the court is attempting to determine whether the parties seeking adoption would be suitable to adopt the child who is the subject of the suit if the termination of parental rights is granted, but the court is not attempting to determine whether such termination of parental rights is in the child's best interest, the court may order the evaluation as an adoption evaluation under Subchapter E.>

Ch. 108. Central Record File; Vital Statistics

[Contents]

Sec. 108.001. Transmittal of Records of Suit by Clerk.

(a) Except as provided by this chapter, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the vital statistics unit a certified record of the order rendered in a suit, together with the name and all prior names, birth date, and place of birth of the child on a form provided by the unit. The form shall be completed by the petitioner and submitted to the clerk at the time the order is filed for record.

(b) The vital statistics unit shall maintain these records in a central file according to the name, birth date, and place of birth of the child, the court that rendered the order, and the docket number of the suit.

(c) Except as otherwise provided by law, the records required under this section to be maintained by the vital statistics unit are confidential.

(d) In a Title IV–D case, the Title IV–D agency may transmit the record and information specified by Subsection (a) directly to the vital statistics unit. The record and information are not required to be certified if transmitted by the Title IV–D agency under this subsection.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.002. Dissolution of Marriage Records Maintained by Clerk. A clerk may not transmit to the central record file the pleadings, papers, studies, and records relating to a suit for divorce or annulment or to declare a marriage void.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.003. Transmittal of Information Regarding Adoption.

(a) The clerk of a court that renders a decree of adoption shall, not later than the 10th day of the first month after the month in which the adoption is rendered, transmit to the central registry of the vital statistics unit a certified report of adoption that includes:

(1) the name of the adopted child after adoption as shown in the adoption order;

(2) the birth date of the adopted child;

(3) the docket number of the adoption suit;

(4) the identity of the court rendering the adoption;

(5) the date of the adoption order;

(6) the name and address of each parent, guardian, managing conservator, or other person whose consent to adoption was required or waived under Chapter 162, or whose parental rights were terminated in the adoption suit;

(7) the identity of the licensed child placing agency, if any, through which the adopted child was placed for adoption; and

(8) the identity, address, and telephone number of the registry through which the adopted child may register as an adoptee.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by law, for good cause shown, or on an order of the court that granted the adoption or terminated the proceedings under Section 155.001, the records concerning a child maintained by the district clerk after rendition of a decree of adoption, the records of a child–placing agency that has ceased operations, and the records required under this section to be maintained by the vital statistics unit are confidential, and no person is entitled to access to or information from these records.

(c) If the vital statistics unit determines that a report filed with the unit under this section requires correction, the unit shall mail the report directly to an attorney of record with respect to the adoption. The attorney shall return the corrected report to the unit. If there is no attorney of record, the unit shall mail the report to the clerk of the court for correction.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.004. Transmittal of Files on Loss of Jurisdiction. On the loss of jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155, 159, or 262, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the central registry of the vital statistics unit a certified record, on a form provided by the unit, stating that jurisdiction has been lost, the reason for the loss of jurisdiction, and the name and all previous names, date of birth, and place of birth of the child.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.005. Adoption Records Received by Vital Statistics Unit.

(a) When the vital statistics unit receives a record from the district clerk showing that continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a child has been lost due to the adoption of the child, the unit shall close the records concerning that child.

(b) An inquiry concerning a child who has been adopted shall be handled as though the child had not previously been the subject of a suit affecting the parent–child relationship.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.006. Fees.

(a) The Department of State Health Services may charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of determining and sending information concerning the identity of the court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

(b) On the filing of a suit requesting the adoption of a child, the clerk of the court shall collect an additional fee of $15.

(c) The clerk shall send the fees collected under Subsection (b) to the Department of State Health Services for deposit in a special fund in the state treasury from which the legislature may appropriate money only to operate and maintain the central file and central registry of the vital statistics unit.

(d) The receipts from the fees charged under Subsection (a) shall be deposited in a financial institution as determined by the Department of State Health Services and withdrawn as necessary for the sole purpose of operating and maintaining the central record file.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.007. Microfilm.

(a) The vital statistics unit may use microfilm or other suitable means for maintaining the central record file.

(b) A certified reproduction of a document maintained by the vital statistics unit is admissible in evidence as the original document.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.008. Filing Information After Determination of Paternity.

(a) On a determination of paternity, the petitioner shall provide the clerk of the court in which the order was rendered the information necessary to prepare the report of determination of paternity. The clerk shall:

(1) prepare the report on a form provided by the vital statistics unit; and

(2) complete the report immediately after the order becomes final.

(b) On completion of the report, the clerk of the court shall forward to the state registrar a report for each order that became final in that court.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.009. Birth Certificate.

(a) The state registrar shall substitute a new birth certificate for the original based on the order in accordance with laws or rules that permit the correction or substitution of a birth certificate for an adopted child or a child whose parents marry each other subsequent to the birth of the child.

(b) The new certificate may not show that the father and child relationship was established after the child's birth but may show the child's actual place and date of birth.

[Contents]

Sec. 108.110. Release of Information by Vital Statistics Unit.

(a) The vital statistics unit shall provide to the Department of Family and Protective Services:

(1) adoption information as necessary for the department to comply with federal law or regulations regarding the compilation or reporting of adoption information to federal officials; and

(2) other information as necessary for the department to administer its duties.

(b) The unit may release otherwise confidential information from the unit's central record files to another governmental entity that has a specific need for the information and maintains appropriate safeguards to prevent further dissemination of the information.

Ch. 109. Appeals

[Contents]

Sec. 109.001. Temporary Orders During Pendency of Appeal.

(a) Not later than the 30th day after the date an appeal is perfected, on the motion of any party or on the court's own motion and after notice and hearing, the court may make any order necessary to preserve and protect the safety and welfare of the child during the pendency of the appeal as the court may deem necessary and equitable. In addition to other matters, an order may:

(1) appoint temporary conservators for the child and provide for possession of the child;

(2) require the temporary support of the child by a party;

(3) restrain a party from molesting or disturbing the peace of the child or another party;

(4) prohibit a person from removing the child beyond a geographical area identified by the court;

(5) require payment of reasonable attorney's fees and expenses; or

(6) suspend the operation of the order or judgment that is being appealed.

(b) A court retains jurisdiction to enforce its orders rendered under this section unless the appellate court, on a proper showing, supersedes the court's order.

(c) A temporary order rendered under this section is not subject to interlocutory appeal.

(d) The court may not suspend under Subsection (a)(6) the operation of an order or judgment terminating the parent–child relationship in a suit brought by the state or a political subdivision of the state permitted by law to bring the suit.

[Contents]

Sec. 109.002. Appeal.

(a) An appeal from a final order rendered in a suit, when allowed under this section or under other provisions of law, shall be as in civil cases generally under the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. An appeal in a suit in which termination of the parent–child relationship is in issue shall be given precedence over other civil cases and shall be accelerated by the appellate courts. The procedures for an accelerated appeal under the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure apply to an appeal in which the termination of the parent–child relationship is in issue.

(b) An appeal may be taken by any party to a suit from a final order rendered under this title.

(c) An appeal from a final order, with or without a supersedeas bond, does not suspend the order unless suspension is ordered by the court rendering the order. The appellate court, on a proper showing, may permit the order to be suspended, unless the order provides for the termination of the parent–child relationship in a suit brought by the state or a political subdivision of the state permitted by law to bring the suit.

(d) On the motion of the parties or on the court's own motion, the appellate court in its opinion may identify the parties by fictitious names or by their initials only.

[Contents]

Sec. 109.003. Payment for Statement of Facts.

(a) If the party requesting a statement of facts in an appeal of a suit has filed an affidavit stating the party's inability to pay costs as provided by Rule 20, Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the affidavit is approved by the trial court, the trial court may order the county in which the trial was held to pay the costs of preparing the statement of facts.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit an official court reporter to be paid more than once for the preparation of the statement of facts.

Ch. 110. Court Fees

[Contents]

Sec. 110.001. General Rule. Except as provided by this chapter, fees in a matter covered by this title shall be as in civil cases generally.

[Contents]

Sec. 110.002. Filing Fees and Deposits.

(a) The clerk of the court may collect a filing fee of $15 in a suit for filing:

(1) a suit or motion for modification;

(2) a motion for enforcement;

(3) a notice of application for judicial writ of withholding;

(4) a motion to transfer;

(5) a petition for license suspension;

(6) a motion to revoke a stay of license suspension; or

(7) a motion for contempt.

(b) No other filing fee may be collected or required for an action described in this section.

(c) The clerk may collect a deposit as in other cases, in the amount set by the clerk for payment of expected costs and other expenses arising in the proceeding.

[Contents]

Sec. 110.003. No Separate or Additional Filing Fee. The clerk of the court may not require:

(1) a separate filing fee in a suit joined with a suit for dissolution of marriage under Title 1; or

(2) an additional filing fee if more than one form of relief is requested in a suit.

[Contents]

Sec. 110.004. Fee for Issuing and Delivering Withholding Order or Writ. The clerk of the court may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed $15, for each order or writ of income withholding issued by the clerk and delivered to an employer.

[Contents]

Sec. 110.005. Transfer Fee.

(a) The fee for filing a transferred case is $45 payable to the clerk of the court to which the case is transferred. No portion of this fee may be sent to the state.

(b) A party may not be assessed any other fee, cost, charge, or expense by the clerk of the court or other public official in connection with filing of the transferred case.

(c) The fee limitation in this section does not affect a fee payable to the court transferring the case.

[Contents]

Sec. 110.006. Domestic Relations Office Operations Fees and Child Support Service Fees.

(a) If an administering entity of a domestic relations office adopts an initial operations fee under Section 203.005(a)(1), the clerk of the court shall:

(1) collect the operations fee at the time the original suit, motion for modification, or motion for enforcement, as applicable, is filed; and

(2) send the fee to the domestic relations office.

(b) If an administering entity of a domestic relations office adopts an initial child support service fee under Section 203.005(a)(2), the clerk of the court shall:

(1) collect the child support service fee at the time the original suit is filed; and

(2) send the fee to the domestic relations office.

(c) The fees described by Subsections (a) and (b) are not filing fees for purposes of Section 110.002 or 110.003.

Ch. 111. Guidelines for Possession and Child Support

[Contents]

Sec. 111.001. Review of Guidelines.

(a) Prior to each regular legislative session, the standing committees of each house of the legislature having jurisdiction over family law issues shall review and, if necessary, recommend revisions to the guidelines for possession of and access to a child under Chapter 153. The committee shall report the results of the review and shall include any recommended revisions in the committee's report to the legislature.

(b) At least once every four years, the Title IV–D agency shall review the child support guidelines under Chapter 154 as required by 42 U.S.C. Section 667(a) and report the results of the review and any recommendations for any changes to the guidelines and their manner of application to the standing committees of each house of the legislature having jurisdiction over family law issues.

[Contents]

Sec. 111.002. Guidelines Supercede Court Rules.

(a) The guidelines in this title supersede local court rules and rules of the supreme court that conflict with the guidelines.

(b) Notwithstanding other law, the guidelines may not be repealed or modified by a rule adopted by the supreme court.

[Contents]

Sec. 111.003.Posting Guidelines. A copy of the guidelines for possession of and access to a child under Chapter 153 and a copy of the guidelines for the support of a child under Chapter 154 shall be prominently displayed at or near the entrance to the courtroom of every court having jurisdiction of a suit.

[Contents]