By Goodman H.B. No. 2441 76R7705 JMM-D 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. 1-4 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: 1-5 SECTION 1. Subchapter E, Chapter 6, Family Code, is amended 1-6 by adding Section 6.410 to read as follows: 1-7 Sec. 6.410. QUESTIONNAIRE. (a) On filing a suit for 1-8 dissolution of a marriage, the clerk of the court in which the suit 1-9 is filed shall provide to the petitioner, and the petitioner shall 1-10 complete and return to the clerk, an unsigned anonymous 1-11 informational questionnaire. 1-12 (b) The clerk shall maintain each questionnaire returned 1-13 under Subsection (a) in a separate file to preserve the 1-14 confidentiality of the information and shall provide the 1-15 questionnaires on request to the researchers from the Texas Tech 1-16 University human development and family studies department. The 1-17 researchers shall develop the questionnaire and provide sufficient 1-18 copies to the clerks of the appropriate courts. 1-19 SECTION 2. Subchapter F, Chapter 6, Family Code, is amended 1-20 by adding Section 6.5055 to read as follows: 1-21 Sec. 6.5055. PARENT EDUCATION AND FAMILY STABILIZATION 1-22 COURSE. (a) Unless the requirement is waived for good cause, the 1-23 court may not render a final judgment in a suit for dissolution of 1-24 a marriage in which the parties are parents of a child under 18 2-1 years of age born or adopted during the marriage unless both 2-2 parties to the suit present proof of completion of a parent 2-3 education and family stabilization course as provided by this 2-4 section. In order to receive the maximum benefit of participation 2-5 in a course under this section, the parties are encouraged to 2-6 complete the course in the earliest possible stage of the suit. 2-7 (b) The parties to the suit are not required to attend the 2-8 course together. The court, on its own motion or the motion of 2-9 either party, may prohibit the parties from taking the course 2-10 together if there is a history of family violence in the marriage. 2-11 (c) A course under this section must be at least four hours 2-12 in length and be designed to educate and assist divorcing parents 2-13 with regard to the consequences of divorce on parents and children. 2-14 The course must include information on the following issues: 2-15 (1) the emotional effects of divorce on parents; 2-16 (2) the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce 2-17 by young children and adolescents; 2-18 (3) parenting issues relating to the concerns and 2-19 needs of children at different development stages; 2-20 (4) stress indicators in young children and 2-21 adolescents; 2-22 (5) conflict management; 2-23 (6) family stabilization through developing a 2-24 co-parenting relationship; 2-25 (7) the financial responsibilities of parenting; 2-26 (8) family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse 2-27 and neglect; and 3-1 (9) the availability of community services and 3-2 resources. 3-3 (d) A course may not be designed to provide individual 3-4 mental health therapy or individual legal advice. 3-5 (e) A course satisfies the requirements of this section if 3-6 it is offered by: 3-7 (1) a mental health professional who has at least a 3-8 master's degree with a background in family therapy or parent 3-9 education; or 3-10 (2) a religious practitioner who performs counseling 3-11 consistent with the laws of this state or another person designated 3-12 as a program counselor by a church or religious institution. 3-13 (f) The county clerk in each county shall establish a 3-14 registry of course providers in the county and a list of locations 3-15 where courses are provided. If available, the clerk shall include 3-16 information in the registry identifying courses that are offered on 3-17 a sliding fee scale or without charge. 3-18 (g) Information obtained in a course or a statement made by 3-19 a participant to a suit during a course may not be considered in 3-20 the adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding. 3-21 Any report that results from participating in the course may not 3-22 become a record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the 3-23 record in writing. 3-24 (h) On a party's failure to attend or complete a course the 3-25 party is required to attend under this section, the court may take 3-26 appropriate action, including holding the party in contempt of 3-27 court, striking pleadings, or invoking any of the sanctions 4-1 provided by Rule 215, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. 4-2 (i) On completion of the course, the course provider shall 4-3 issue a certificate of completion to each participant. The 4-4 participant shall pay a fee for attending the course in an amount 4-5 determined by the court in which the suit is pending. 4-6 SECTION 3. Chapter 105, Family Code, is amended by adding 4-7 Section 105.009 to read as follows: 4-8 Sec. 105.009. ATTENDANCE AT PARENT EDUCATION AND FAMILY 4-9 STABILIZATION COURSE. In a suit in which parental rights or the 4-10 issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to a child 4-11 are to be resolved, including an action to modify an order under 4-12 this title, the court may require the parties to complete a parent 4-13 education and family stabilization course under Section 6.5055 4-14 before the court renders a final judgment in the suit or issues a 4-15 final order in a request for modification. 4-16 SECTION 4. Section 157.211, Family Code, is amended to read 4-17 as follows: 4-18 Sec. 157.211. CONDITIONS OF COMMUNITY SUPERVISION. If the 4-19 court places the respondent on community supervision and suspends 4-20 commitment, the terms and conditions of community supervision may 4-21 include the requirement that the respondent: 4-22 (1) report to the community supervision and 4-23 corrections department officer as directed; 4-24 (2) permit the community supervision and corrections 4-25 department officer to visit the respondent at the respondent's home 4-26 or elsewhere; 4-27 (3) obtain counseling on financial planning, budget 5-1 management, conflict resolution, parenting skills, alcohol or drug 5-2 abuse, or other matters causing the respondent to fail to obey the 5-3 order; 5-4 (4) pay required child support and any child support 5-5 arrearages; and 5-6 (5) pay court costs and attorney's fees ordered by the 5-7 court. 5-8 SECTION 5. (a) This Act takes effect September 1, 1999. 5-9 (b) The change in law made by this Act applies to a suit for 5-10 dissolution of a marriage, a suit affecting the parent-child 5-11 relationship, or motion to modify an order providing for possession 5-12 of or access to a child that is filed on or after the effective 5-13 date of this Act. A suit or motion filed before the effective date 5-14 of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the date the suit 5-15 or motion was filed, and the former law is continued in effect for 5-16 that purpose. 5-17 SECTION 6. The importance of this legislation and the 5-18 crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an 5-19 emergency and an imperative public necessity that the 5-20 constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several 5-21 days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.