Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2441
By: Goodman
Juvenile Justice and Family Issues


Currently, courts have the authority to order parties in a suit for
dissolution of a marriage to participate in parenting courses if the
parties have children.  H.B. 2441 requires a court to order parties to such
a suit who have children to take a parent education and family
stabilization course, unless the court exempts the parties for a good
cause.  It sets forth the contents for the course and designates who may
offer the course.  This bill also authorizes the court to prohibit spouses
from taking the course together if the marriage has a history of family


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Subchapter E, Chapter 6, Family Code, by adding Section
6.410, as follows: 

Sec. 6.410.  QUESTIONNAIRE.  Requires a court in which a suit for
dissolution of a marriage (suit) is filed to provide to the petitioner an
unsigned anonymous questionnaire. Requires the petitioner to complete the
questionnaire and return it to the clerk.  Requires the clerk to maintain
each questionnaire in a separate file in order to preserve confidentiality.
Requires the clerk to provide the information on request to researchers
from the Texas Tech University human development and family studies
department.  Requires the researchers to develop the questionnaire and
provide sufficient copies to the clerks of the appropriate courts. 

SECTION 2.  Amends Subchapter F, Chapter 6, Family Code, by adding Section
6.5055, as follows: 

Prohibits a court from rendering final judgment in a suit until both
parties to the suit present proof of completion of a parent education and
family stabilization course (course), unless the requirement is waived for
good cause.  Provides that the course requirement applies if the parties
are parents of a child under 18 years of age who was born or adopted during
the marriage.  Encourages the parties to complete the course in the
earliest possible stage of the suit in order to receive maximum benefit
from the course.   

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

(c)  Provides that a course must be at least four hours in length and be
designed to educate and assist divorcing parents with regard to the
consequences of divorce on a family.  Sets forth the information that must
be included in the course. 

(d)  Prohibits a course from being designed to provide individual mental
therapy or individual legal advice. 

 (e)  Provides that a course satisfies the requirements of this section if
it is offered by a mental health professional who has at least a master's
degree with a background in family therapy or parent education, 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. 

(f)  Requires the county clerk in each county to establish a registry of
course providers in the county and a list of locations where the courses
are provided.  Requires the clerk to identify courses in the registry that
are offered on a sliding fee scale or without charge, if available. 

(g)  Prohibits information obtained in a course or a statement made by a
participant to a suit during the course from being considered in the
adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding.  Prohibits
any report that comes out of participation in the course from becoming a
record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the record in writing.  

(h)  Authorizes a court to take appropriate action on a party's failure to
attend or complete a required course. 

(i)  Requires a course provider to issue a certification of completion of
the course to each participant upon completion.  Requires the participant
to pay a fee for attending the course in an amount determined by the court
in which the suit is pending. 

SECTION 3.  Amends Chapter 105, Family Code, by adding Section 105.009, as

COURSE.  Authorizes a court to require parties to a suit to complete a
parent education and family stabilization course under Section 6.5055
before the court renders final judgment in the suit or issues a final order
in a request for modification.  This section applies to a suit involving
parental rights or the issues of conservatorship and possession of and
access to a child. 

SECTION 4.  Amends Section 157.211, Family Code, to authorize the terms and
conditions of community supervision to include the obtainment of counseling
on conflict resolution and parenting skills.   

SECTION 5.  Effective date: September 1, 1999.
            Makes application of this Act prospective.

SECTION 6.  Emergency clause.