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.
 1-5           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:
1-22     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:
 4-9     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.