H.B. No. 1262 Posession Guidelines for Children Under 3 Years of Age

February 17, 2011 Posted in Child Custody, Divorce Tagged in Child Custody, Divorce

Interesting House Bill that sets guidelines for Courts to use when setting non-custodial parents possession and parenting time for children under three years of age. The bill stops short of implementing and recommending an actual schedule but does utilize guidelines for a Court to look to for setting visitation. It seems to reward parents who step up and become active in a young child’s life as opposed to parents who have shown little or no interest in the care giving of their kids. Personally I am not sure how you quantify Section (a)(2) “the effect on the child that may result from separation from either party” If the child is less than six months old, nonverbal, and both parents have been active in providing care then it would seem impossible to determine what effect seperation would have from either parent beyond established scientific reasearch which would be applicable to all children in general.

Edit: I called around and located one of the drafting lawyer’s of this bill (who happens to also be a close friend of mine and whom I didn’t even know was working on this) and he shared with me they went through multiple iterations of this bill prior to it even going to committee. Appearantly there was an actual schedule on the table being proposed for this bill for children at different ages (1-6 months old, 7-12 months old, 13 -24 months, ect…) but it was ultimately overulled by various interest groups. It’s sort of a shame since it seems like you have to litigate all possession schedules for children younger than three because there is no presumptive schedule. It’s a legal free-for-all. Custody litigation almost always polarizes the parents against each other and makes it difficult for parents of young children to start out on a nonadversarial footing from the very beginning of trying to jointly raise a child. I think this is a disservice to Texas parents.


H.B. No. 1262


AN ACT relating to a court order for the possession of or access to a child under three years of age.


SECTIONA1.AASection 153.254, Family Code, is amended to read


 (a) The court shall render an order appropriate under the circumstances for possession of a child less than three years of age. In rendering the order, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:

      (1) the caregiving provided to the child before and during the current suit;

      (2) the effect on the child that may result from separation from either party;

      (3) the availability of the parties as caregivers and the willingness of the parties to personally care for the child;

      (4) the physical, medical, behavioral, and developmental needs of the child;

      (5) the physical, medical, emotional, economic, and social conditions of the parties;

      (6) the impact and influence of individuals, other than the parties, who will be present during periods of possession;

      (7) the presence of siblings during periods of possession;

      (8) the child’s need to develop healthy attachments to both parents;

      (9) the child’s need for continuity of routine;

      (10) the location and proximity of the residences of the parties;

      (11) the need for a temporary possession schedule that incrementally shifts to the schedule provided in the prospective order under Subsection (d) based on:

            (A) the age of the child; or

            (B) minimal or inconsistent contact with the child by a party;

      (12) the ability of the parties to share in the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parenting; and

      (13) any other evidence of the best interest of the child.

(b) Notwithstanding the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, in rendering an order under Subsection (a), the court shall make findings in support of the order if:

      (1) a party files a written request with the court not later than the 10th day after the date of the hearing; or

      (2) a party makes an oral request in court during the hearing on the order.

     (c) The court shall make and enter the findings required by Subsection (b) not later than the 15th day after the date the party makes the request.

 (d) The court shall render a prospective order to take effect on the child’s third birthday, which presumptively will be the standard possession order.

 SECTION 2. The enactment of this Act does not constitute a material and substantial change of circumstances sufficient to warrant modification of a court order or portion of a decree that provides for the possession of or access to a child rendered before the effective date of this Act.

 SECTIONA 3. The change in law made by this Act applies to a suit affecting the parent-child relationship that is pending in a trial court on the effective date of this Act or that is filed on or after the effective date of this Act.

 SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2011.