By Goodman, Telford, Wohlgemuth,                      H.B. No. 2441
         76R11980 JMM-F                           
                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to the requirement that parents participate in a parenting
 1-3     course and counseling in certain suits involving children.
 1-5           SECTION 1.  Chapter 105, Family Code, is amended by adding
 1-6     Section 105.009 to read as follows:
 1-8     COURSE.  (a) In a suit affecting the parent-child relationship,
 1-9     including an action to modify an order in a suit affecting the
1-10     parent-child relationship providing for possession of or access to
1-11     a child, the court may order the parties to the suit to attend a
1-12     parent education and family stabilization course if the court
1-13     determines that the order is in the best interest of the child.
1-14           (b)  The parties to the suit may not be required to attend
1-15     the course together.  The court, on its own motion or the motion of
1-16     either party, may prohibit the parties from taking the course
1-17     together if there is a history of family violence in the marriage.
1-18           (c)  A course under this section must be at least four hours
1-19     in length and be designed to educate and assist parents with regard
1-20     to the consequences of divorce on parents and children.  The course
1-21     must include information on the following issues:
1-22                 (1)  the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
1-23                 (2)  the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce
1-24     by young children and adolescents;
1-25                 (3)  parenting issues relating to the concerns and
 2-1     needs of children at different development stages;
 2-2                 (4)  stress indicators in young children and
 2-3     adolescents;
 2-4                 (5)  conflict management;
 2-5                 (6)  family stabilization through development of a
 2-6     coparenting relationship;
 2-7                 (7)  the financial responsibilities of parenting;
 2-8                 (8)  family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse
 2-9     and neglect; and
2-10                 (9)  the availability of community services and
2-11     resources.
2-12           (d)  A course may not be designed to provide individual
2-13     mental health therapy or individual legal advice.
2-14           (e)  A course satisfies the requirements of this section if
2-15     it is offered by:
2-16                 (1)  a mental health professional who has at least a
2-17     master's degree with a background in family therapy or parent
2-18     education;
2-19                 (2)  a religious practitioner who performs counseling
2-20     consistent with the laws of this state or another person designated
2-21     as a program counselor by a church or religious institution; or
2-22                 (3)  if a person described by Subdivision (1) or (2) is
2-23     not available, any other person designated as a course provider by
2-24     the county clerk, including a properly trained school counselor or
2-25     a person having training in marriage and family therapy.
2-26           (f)  Information obtained in a course or a statement made by
2-27     a participant to a suit during a course may not be considered in
 3-1     the adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding.
 3-2     Any report that results from participation in the course may not
 3-3     become a record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the
 3-4     record in writing.
 3-5           (g)  The court may take appropriate action with regard to a
 3-6     party who fails to attend or complete a course ordered by the court
 3-7     under this section, including holding the party in contempt of
 3-8     court, striking pleadings, or invoking any sanction provided by
 3-9     Rule 215, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  The failure or refusal
3-10     by a party to attend or complete a course required by this section
3-11     may not delay the court from rendering a judgment in a suit
3-12     affecting the parent-child relationship.
3-13           (h)  The course required under this section may be offered
3-14     by:
3-15                 (1)  personal instruction;
3-16                 (2)  videotape instruction;
3-17                 (3)  instruction through an electronic medium; or
3-18                 (4)  a combination of those methods.
3-19           (i)  On completion of the course, the course provider shall
3-20     issue a certificate of completion to each participant.  The
3-21     certificate must state:
3-22                 (1)  the name of the participant;
3-23                 (2)  the name of the course provider;
3-24                 (3)  the date the course was completed; and
3-25                 (4)  whether the course was provided by:
3-26                       (A)  personal instruction;
3-27                       (B)  videotape instruction;
 4-1                       (C)  instruction through an electronic medium; or
 4-2                       (D)  a combination of those methods.
 4-3           (j)  The county clerk in each county may establish a registry
 4-4     of course providers in the county and a list of locations at which
 4-5     courses are provided.  The clerk shall include information in the
 4-6     registry identifying courses that are offered on a sliding fee
 4-7     scale or without charge.
 4-8           (k)  The court may not order the parties to a suit to attend
 4-9     a course under this section if the parties cannot afford to take
4-10     the course. If the parties cannot afford to take a course, the
4-11     court may direct the parties to a course that is offered on a
4-12     sliding fee scale or without charge, if a course of that type is
4-13     available.
4-14           SECTION 2.  Section 157.211, Family Code, is amended to read
4-15     as follows:
4-16           Sec. 157.211.  CONDITIONS OF COMMUNITY SUPERVISION.  If the
4-17     court places the respondent on community supervision and suspends
4-18     commitment, the terms and conditions of community supervision may
4-19     include the requirement that the respondent:
4-20                 (1)  report to the community supervision and
4-21     corrections department officer as directed;
4-22                 (2)  permit the community supervision and corrections
4-23     department officer to visit the respondent at the respondent's home
4-24     or elsewhere;
4-25                 (3)  obtain counseling on financial planning, budget
4-26     management, conflict resolution, parenting skills, alcohol or drug
4-27     abuse, or other matters causing the respondent to fail to obey the
 5-1     order;
 5-2                 (4)  pay required child support and any child support
 5-3     arrearages; and
 5-4                 (5)  pay court costs and attorney's fees ordered by the
 5-5     court.
 5-6           SECTION 3.  (a)  This Act takes effect September 1, 1999.
 5-7           (b)  The change in law made by this Act applies to a suit
 5-8     affecting the parent-child relationship or a motion to modify an
 5-9     order providing for possession of or access to a child that is
5-10     filed on or after the effective date of this Act.  A suit or motion
5-11     filed before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law
5-12     in effect on the date the suit or motion was filed, and the former
5-13     law is continued in effect for that purpose.
5-14           SECTION 4.  The importance of this legislation and the
5-15     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an
5-16     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the
5-17     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several
5-18     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.