News: Earlier this month, I had a stunning learning experience by attending the Advanced Mediation Course: Mediating Complex Disputes at Harvard Law School. There were a total of 34 attendees with 5 instructors. I was the only person from Texas and one of only 9 attendees from the United States.
New Mediation Rates: My new mediation rates are $1050 per side for mediations in Denton County and $1100 per side for mediations outside Denton County.
Legislative Update Highlights -Most Effective 9/1/2015:
- Family Code-Dental Insurance has been elevated to the same status as health insurance and is now a part of child support. Dental insurance means insurance coverage that provides preventive dental care and other dental services, including usual dental services, office visits, examinations, X-rays and emergency services. FC sec. 101.0094; Chapter 154 Child Support was amended to add “and dental insurance” following the words “health insurance” each place the phrase “health insurance” appears. Please carefully read two sections 154.1815, Dental Support Order and 154.1825, Dental Care Coverage For Child. The additions to the Family Code re dental insurance (SB 550) do not take effect until September 1, 2018.
- Family Code-Child Custody Evaluation, Family Code sections 107.101-115. Social studies are no more, having been replaced by child custody evaluations. These revisions and added language require careful reading, especially sec. 107.104 setting forth the minimum qualifications for a child custody evaluator; 107.105 requiring the court to determine if the evaluator satisfies the minimum requirements; and 107.109 setting out the required elements of a child custody evaluation. 107.109(a) says, “A child custody evaluator may not offer an opinion regarding conservatorship of a child who is the subject of a suit or possession of or access to the child unless each basic element of a child custody evaluation as described by this section has been completed.” There are about 23 elements that a custody evaluator shall complete, which should be used by attorneys in direct or cross examination of the evaluator. Effective for cases filed on or after March 1, 2016.
- Family Code-156.006(b-1), requires a person asking for temporary orders to attach to the motion an affidavit “on the person’s personal knowledge or the person’s belief based on representations made to the person by a person with personal knowledge that contains facts that support the allegation that the child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.”
- Property Code Chapter 24A.001-006 provides access to a residence or former residence to retrieve only medical records, medicine and medical supplies, clothing, child-care items, legal or financial documents, checks and credit cards in the applicant’s name, employment records and personal ID documents when the occupant of the residence denies access. A Peace Officer can accompany the person if certain conditions are met.
- Estates Code sections 123.001, 123.052, 123.151 deal with provisions in a will before divorce, the effect on divorce on certain multiple-party accounts such as POD accounts and section 253.001 which says a court may not prohibit changing or revoking a will.
- Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42.0373 provides after conviction or deferred adjudication for family violence, a court shall order restitution to a child witness if (1) the offense was committed in the physical presence of, or in the same habitation or vehicle occupied, by a person younger than 15 years of age; and (2) at the time of the offense, the defendant had knowledge or reason to know that the person younger than 15 years of age was physically present or occupied the same habitation or vehicle. If the court determines that items 1 and 2 above exist, the court shall order the defendant to pay restitution in an amount equal to the cost of necessary rehabilitation, including medical, psychiatric and psychological care and treatment for the child.