New 2023 Texas Family Laws: Update from the 88th Texas Legislative Session

Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
August 14, 2023
 | Category: 
General Information

The New Texas Family Laws: Learn What is New From the 88thTexas Legislative Session

A few new Texas family laws impact families in Texas divorce and child custody cases. The Barrows Firm is happy to share some highlights that might interest you or help you resolve conflicts and issues in the family and co-parenting. Remember that just because there is a new law does not mean we all need to suit up for battle and use the law. However, if it has value and improves your life and the children's best interests, it may be time to take advantage of the relief provided by Texas lawmakers.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is known for being skilled and mobile in Texas family law, comfortably wearing many hats; from mediator to high-stakes litigator, she knows how and when to get things done. To that end, the value of an experienced family lawyer is understanding how a judge is likely to react if you bring a modification or enforcement action versus creative problem-solving on your own. Families have daily opportunities for crisis and for us to measure how we respond. Raising kids is a long haul, and picking and choosing your battles is essential.

It's Back to School Time (to read our article!) Back-to-School Conflict in Divorce and Custody Cases

New Child Support Enforcement Provisions – Court Orders You to Get a Job!

Child support enforcement just got real with the 88th legislative session giving some teeth to enforce child support obligations. As of September 1st, child support obligors can be ordered to get a job, and the Court will help them employment to start satisfying their past due and current child support obligations. Those individuals do not want to be held in contempt of the Court for not following through and loving the new job the Court finds them, even if they find it below their expectations. See Texas Family Code 154.017

Check our article about child support modifications based on substantial changes in circumstances.

Barrows Firm Answers to Family Matters and Questions About New and Existing Laws

Here at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, we try to keep you all updated with news and changes in family law. Every two years, the Texas legislative session meets. Your elected state district house representatives and senators meet to vote on new laws and amendments to current laws to be sent to the Governor to be signed into law in Texas. While the laws that affect Texas family law don't always make headline news reports, they are significant to how we practice law as divorce and family law attorneys representing you and your family. It's important to understand that family law is constantly updating, and what might have been true at onetime may be different today. So always get up-to-date information from experienced family lawyers.

Below Are Some Highlights, and The Text of The Bills Are Linked to Their Senate and House Bill Numbers – New Additions to Bills Are Underlined

SB 869 Omnibus Bill – Relating to Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship Including Payment and Enforcement of Support in a SAPCR Case

The current law regarding child support needed to be modified to address issues relating to suits affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) and the enforcement of child support obligations. This additional rulemaking seeks to resolve child support issues.

Several Issues and Updates - Overdue Child Support &Inheritance, Electronic Signatures, Changes to Email Address Requirements, Social Security Disability Lump Sum Payments, Child Support Arrearages Cannot Be Reduced Paternity Suits Without Biological Father's Location, Renewable Child Support Liens: No More Time Limit.

SB 870 Child Support Enforcement

While the big news is the Court's expanded authority in ordering child support obligors to get a job, the Court can also enroll support obligors into employment programs whether they like it or not. The legislature is helping courts get deadbeat child support payers back to work and paying support instead of willfully failing to seek and maintain employment. There are also updates in the child support statutes concerning child support liens, child support enforcement, child support modifications, and more, including a significant update in rules regarding incarceration and support obligations.

SB 48 Protective Order Forms

The new law requires standardized forms and materials to issue protective orders. When applying for a protective order, something that has a legal effect on the freedoms and liberties of another, the law's elements and requirements must be applied fairly and justly, with uniformity. So, use the forms, and all will be well.

HB 891 Child Custody Evaluations

A prohibition is lifted against using expert testimony in challenging the person conducting a child custody evaluation, and we are free to challenge their qualifications and methodologies. Just because someone checks the boxes required to perform a task does not mean that person is beyond reproach, so rogue child custody evaluators beware.  

HB 660 Protective Order Enforcement

Regarding law enforcement maintaining information related to protective orders, the agency now shall enter a protective order in the agency's computer records of outstanding warrants. Additionally, the new law clarifies that ex-parte protective orders are equally enforceable as if they were final orders.

HB 4765 Adoption by Estoppel

The Estates Code covering adoptions has a new language, "Adoptive parent" means a parent (a) who adopted a child through an existing former statutory procedure or (b) considered by a court to have equitably adopted a child or adopted a child by acts of estoppel. This refers to the conduct and actions of the situation, and parties involved can be elements in adoption.

HB 2850 Discovery

New provisions in the Texas Family Code cover discovery procedures for civil actions brought under the family code. The new Title 6contains civil procedure chapter sections with rules and deadlines for discovery requests, disclosures, and the exchange of discovery in civil actions brought under the family code.

HB 2671 Temporary Hearings

Postponing temporary order hearings in family law cases referred to mediation is the issue in the new law that states that sets forth rules and dates for temporary order hearings and how the Court can proceed on its motions regarding mediation, and how long a temporary orders hearing may be postponed.

HB 2070 Spousal Maintenance

The updates to the spousal maintenance laws clarify the procedural requirements concerning the circumstances when a spouse seeks to continue a spousal maintenance order when a spouse is caring for a child with special needs.

HB 1547 Reimbursement of Marital Estate

When one party is ordered to or agrees to reimburse the marital estate, there are new laws relating to those claims for reimbursement. The new law talks about offsets, where the claim of one can offset the claim of another when considering a benefitted estate and a conferring estate.

HB 1432 Protective Order Elements

Before issuing a protective order, the Court must make specific findings of facts required by the Texas Family Code. The likelihood of future family violence occurrences has been struck in a few areas from the required findings. A protective order can issue based on family violence that occurred, without regard to whether there will likely be another event in the future, which makes intuitive sense.