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House Interim Committee on Judicial Affairs
Charge

Study and make recommendations for the legislature concerning parental kidnapping laws.
Background

Parental abduction is the taking of a child by a parent in violation of custody or visitation rights. In most states, parental abduction and custodial interference is a felony. There are uniform acts, federal laws, and international treaties that parents can use to seek the return of abducted children. However, obtaining prosecution of offenders may be difficult.
Recommendations

  • Provide for the placement of abducted children in temporary foster homes.

  • Clarify that the court which decided custody has continuing jurisdiction.

  • Waive disclosure of an abused contestant.

  • Provide a presumption that the married parents have equal access to a child.

  • Develop uniform procedures to register and enforce child custody orders interstate.

  • Create a central statewide registry for divorce and child custody orders.

  • Define authority of law enforcement orders to enforce out-of-state custody orders and provide statutory immunity to officers enforcing custody orders.

  • Enter a state-federal agreement with Mexico concerning support and custody orders.

  • Allow the Office of Attorney General Child Support Enforcement Division to enforce contempt actions for denial of visitation and maintain an in-house process server.

  • Study developing model parental abduction charging and sentencing guidelines.

  • Reclassify parental abduction as a third degree felony.

  • Adopt statutes to flag requests for school and other records.
    Charge

    Study and make recommendations for the legislature concerning the Uniform Transfer on Death Securities Registration Act.
    Background

    This Act provides a cheap, easy method for uncontested transfers of securities after a person's death, avoiding the experience and complexities of probate.
    Recommendations

  • Amend the Act to ensure it does not supersede constitutional community property rights.

  • Amend the Act to provide that a beneficiary of transfer can be liable to creditors up to the amount of the transfer in the event other assets of the estate are insufficient.

  • Amend the Act to provide information so that consumers are fully informed before making a transfer-on-death designation.
    Charge

    Study and make recommendations for the legislature concerning jury wheel reform and exemptions from jury service.
    Background

    As part of a national trend to expand jury pools, Texas has added drivers' license lists to the pool. Many counties claim that merging voter registration and drivers' license lists to compile a jury pool creates extra work and expense in eliminating duplicate names.
    Recommendation

  • Allow all counties to contract with an entity other than the secretary of state for the purposes of merging voter registration and drivers' license lists.
    Charge

    Study and make recommendations for the legislature concerning development of uniform forms for uncontested, simple divorce and probate actions.
    Background

    Several states and counties have support systems for pro se litigants. The bar, judiciary, and district and county clerks oppose state policies that would encourage pro se litigation.
    Recommendations

    None.
    Charge

    Hold hearings that focus on the Attorney General's Office Child Support Enforcement Division because of the numerous complaints on the enforcement of child support payments.
    Recommendations

    4 Define property transfers by certain delinquent obligors as fraudulent transfers.

  • Allow social security numbers on applications for certain licenses and state employment.

  • Maintain confidentiality of family violence victims, even in court records.

  • Require the division, by September 1, 1997, to submit a plan to the committee and the Speaker of the House to reduce offensive behavior by division workers.

  • Require the attorney general to automatically seek interest on any support arrearages.

  • Eliminate jury trials in paternity actions.

  • Make fathers' in-hospital designation of paternity conclusive, unless revoked within 60 days.

  • Authorize IV-D director or master and the division to require paternity testing.

  • Amend the license suspension law to permit suspension if an obligor is more than 90 days delinquent without having to return to court and first obtain arrearage judgment.

  • Require the division to seek court orders that nonpaying obligors enroll in job-training.

  • Amend Section 107.031, Family Code, to strike the words, "In a suit filed by a governmental entity."