Friday, June 15, 2007

Texas Parenting Plan Law Amended

The 2005 law on Parenting Plans in Texas Family Law has recently changed in response to grumbling among Texas family law attorneys about some of the practical aspects of the law.

No longer any need to file a "temporary parenting plan".

Texas House Bill 555 (HB 555) eliminates the requirement that couples develop temporary parenting plans and prohibits a court from such a requirement by local rule.

The requirement of preparing a temporary parenting plan prior to a temporary order hearing, was widely ignored by attorneys and judges who saw writ ting out a detailed "proposed temporary parenting plan", as a waste of time and money. The bill also eliminates the possibility that the court adopt a parenting plan simply because the other side failed to file one.

Texas Family Code Sec. 153.602 will now read:
"A temporary order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship rendered in accordance with Section 105.001 is not required to include a temporary parenting plan. The court may not require the submission of a temporary parenting plan in any case or by local rule or practice."

Mediation or other ADR No Longer Mandatory

H.B. 555 also eliminates the requirement that a parent must attend alternative dispute resolution to resolve any future disagreements about the parenting plan prior to being able to seek relief from the court. Many attorneys (including this author) believed that this requirement put an unnecessary hurtle for gaining access to court if a parent needed enforcement or modification. And although this does not reverse the general encouragement of the courts (and this author) for the use of ADR prior to resorting to litigation, it eliminates that the parties MUST attend ADR before getting access to the court.

ATTENTION ALL DRAFTERS OF TEXAS DIVORCE OR SAPCR ORDERS: HB 555 eliminates the requirement of the old 153.603 (a)(4) that a final parenting plan must "provide for a dispute resolution process or other voluntary dispute resolution procedures, before court action, unless precluded or limited by Section 153.0071."

The enrolled version of the law can be viewed by clicking here: "Enrolled Version of HB 555"