Many victims of domestic violence often refuse to leave an unsafe environment since many times they must leave their pet behind. These victims many times leave in such a hurry that their pets are unable to join them. The perpetrator of the domestic violence will threaten or harm the pet as a means to intimidate and gain leverage over their victims.
Texas SB 555 amends Family Law Section 85.021, to authorize a court in a protective order, to take certain actions, including prohibiting a party from removing a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal from the possession of the actual or constructive care of a person named in the order.
Texas SB 555 also amends Section 25.07 (Violation of Certain Court Orders or Conditions of Bond in a Family Violence Case) of the Penal Code to expand the definition of “possession” to mean actual or constructive care of an animal. Finally, SB 555 now amends the current law relating to provisions in protective orders regarding pets and other companion animals and provides a penalty for any offense committed by a person if that person harms a pet!
Texas House Bill 845: Standard Possession Order
Amends Family Code provisions relating to standard Texas court orders for possession of a child in suits affecting the parent-child relationship. The bill specifies that written notice for purposes of such possession may now be provided by e-mail or facsimile. The bill provides additional alternative beginning and ending possession times under the standard possession schedule for Mother’s Day weekend and for Thursdays and weekends during the regular school term. The bill also repeals provisions relating to a petition by a conservator for additional periods of possession of or access to a child after the conclusion of the conservator’s military deployment.
Texas House Bill 847: Spousal Maintenance
Amends the Family Code to specify that the agreement for payment of maintenance that is enforceable by contempt is an agreement for periodic payments of Texas spousal maintenance and to prohibit the enforcement by contempt of any provision of an agreed order for maintenance exceeding the amount of periodic support a court could have ordered. The bill authorizes a court to order income withholding in a proceeding in which there is a court-approved agreement for periodic payments of spousal maintenance voluntarily entered into between the parties but prohibits such an order to the extent that any provision of the order exceeds the amount of periodic support the court could have ordered or for any period of maintenance beyond the period the court could have ordered. The bill also specifies that a division of property and any contractual provisions under the terms of a court-approved agreement incident to divorce or annulment are enforceable in the same manner as a division of property provided for in a decree of divorce or annulment. The bill updates relevant enforcement provisions to reflect this inclusion.
Texas House Bill 3017: VA Disability Benefits and Net Resources
Amends Family Code provisions relating to the calculation of net resources for the purpose of determining child support liability. The bill includes U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits, other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits, among the types of income considered resources. The bill authorizes a court, in determining whether an obligor is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, to consider evidence that the obligor is a veteran who is seeking or has been awarded either veteran disability benefits or non-service-connected disability pension benefits. The bill also updates language regarding the wage and salary presumption used in the absence of evidence of a party’s resources.
Texas House Bill 847: Enforcement of a Child Support Order by Contempt
Amends Family Code provisions relating to motions to enforce a final order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. The bill establishes that a court, in hearing such a motion, is not precluded from awarding court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the movant upon finding that the respondent is not in contempt with regard to the underlying order. The bill repeals a provision prohibiting the court from finding a respondent in contempt for failure to pay child support under certain conditions and a provision authorizing the court to award the petitioner court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in a Texas child support enforcement hearing under certain conditions.
Texas Senate Bill 129: Venue for a Protective Order Application:
Amends the Texas Family Code to expand the venue for filing an application for a protective order against family violence to include any county in which the family violence is alleged to have occurred.
There are several laws that guarantee the enforcement of custody and visitation orders from cooperating states. These laws include the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ( UCCJEA ) and the Parental Kidnapping Act.
What is Supervised Visitation? Supervised visitation takes place between the non-custodial parent and her/his child (ren) in the presence of a third party or family agency who oversees the visit to monitor and ensure the child’s physical and emotional safety. When supervision is ordered, possession and visitation are supervised by a neutral third party or family agency usually with the capacity to enforce effective measures that are normally ordered and enforced by the courts.
What is the purpose of Supervised Visitations? A supervised visit is for the benefit of the child to have safe contact with the non-custodial parent without having to participate in the parents’ mutual conflicts or other potentially dangerous circumstances.
The following is a potential list of acts and circumstances that usually occur before the custodial parent will request, and the court may order, supervised visitation between the child and the non-custodial parent:
Violence or physical endangerment – A noncustodial parent may be denied visitation rights if the parent has abused the child or threatened physical violence.
Emotional harm – Where sufficient proof is offered of potential emotional harm or where standard visitation has detrimentally affected a child’s emotional or physical welfare.
Child’s l wishes – A court may consider the child’s wishes as to visitation. The weight given to a child’s preference is dependent on the child’s age, emotional stability, maturity and motives.
Abduction – There must be a showing that there is a strong imminent probability of abduction to limit visitation on this basis.
Substance abuse – A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol may be ordered to supervise visitation restrictions if the conduct endangers the child or if the parent uses abusive language and/or mistreats the child.
Mental illness –Mental incapacity may be a reason for supervised visitation only if it is determined by the court that there is a reasonable potential for harm to the child due to such mental illness.
Sexual behavior – Courts rarely deny visitation solely on the basis of a non-marital heterosexual or same-sex relationship. Courts will, however, cancel overnight visitation by a child with a parent because of the parent’s cohabitation on a showing of an adverse and material negative impact on the child.
Incarceration – Visitations for the incarcerated may be suspended only on a showing that such visits are detrimental to the child.
What are the options for Supervised Visitations?
Presence of a “neutral” third party: examples would be grandparent or other family member, friends of the family, close neighbors, and other child care providers.
Presence of the custodial parent: This option is sometimes used when the child is very young. If this option is used the parents must work very hard to not engage in conflict affecting the child.
Presence at a neutral location and monitored by professionals. These sites are staffed by professional and volunteers are trained for supervised visits. The expense these supervised visits can be very costly and may create a deterrent to access and possession by the non-custodial parent. Such agencies may also provide reports and recommendation to the court based on the success or failure of the supervised visits. These recommendations assist the courts in making informed decisions regarding supervision and whether continued supervision is actually associated and necessary or in the best interest of the child(ren).