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Family Law News

New laws are introduced two ways: The first way is through the Texas Legislature, which meets every two years and vote on which bills become statutory law. The second way is through cases that wind up in a Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, and it is in those courts in which an issue becomes black letter law, or case law.

STATUTORY TEXAS FAMILY CODE LAWS ESTABLISHED OR CHANGED IN 2019

  • Sect. 45.103: If an adult has a felony conviction on their criminal records, or is subject to registration as a sex offender, that adult may change their name ONLY to the primary name in the person's criminal history. Intent: Make name changes more difficult for those attempting to evade law enforcement.

  • Sect. 7.006(b): Agreements incident to divorce do not need to be filed with the court to be effective as long as the final decree references the agreement. Intent: Minimize filings that can be referenced elsewhere.

  • Sect. 72 of the Govt. Code: An entire section was added to allow for the creation of an online public database to facilitate access to information in regard to any protective order issued within Texas. Intent: Enable the public to search for a person whose access may by restrained under court-ordered victim protection.

  • Sect. 6.406 and 102.003: Provisions regarding divorce and standing to file suit, respectively. Both serve the same purpose; to recognize that gestational agreements establish a parent-child relationship between the parties to the suit, as long as at least one party to the agreement is also a person who brings suit. Intent: To recognize gestational agreements as a vehicle by which standing can be established in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.

  • Sect. 153.132: A parent appointed either sole or joint managing conservatorship has the right to apply, renew, and maintain possession of a child's passport. Intent: That passport rights are automatic in any suit affecting the parent-child relationship, since quite often the issue is overlooked in mediated or other settlement agreements.

  • Child Support Guidelines: The cap on monthly net resources used to calculate child support was raised from $8550 to $9200. Intent: To keep up with inflation.

  • Sect. 153.312(c): A possessory conservator (the parent with visitation rights) must notify the managing conservator (the parent with right to determine primary residence), no later than the 15th day before the Friday the visitation begins, the location he or she is to pick up and return the child. Intent: To cut down on the 'game playing' some parents adopt when it comes time to relinquish possession to the other parent.

  • Sect. 155.201: An amendment allowing an adopting foster parent to file a suit for adoption in the county where the child lives, rather than in a county with continuing jurisdiction where perhaps CPS originally filed the suit to remove the child from their former home. Intent: This makes it easier for both the child and the adopting parent who may live some distance from the court with continuing jurisdiction.

  • Sect. 3.305 and 102.010: When personal citation fails, citation by publication must be ALSO published on "the public information Internet website maintained as required by Sect. 72.034 of Govt. Code, in addition to newspaper publication. Intent: Increase the likelihood that a person sought for service of citation will be actually notified, since people are much more likely to see their name on a website than in a newspaper.

Since these new changes are not likely to change in the coming years, I will leave these posted. Next week, I will post the "Top 10 Family Law Cases."

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