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  S.B. No. 1026
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to the powers and duties of an attorney ad litem appointed
  for a parent or an alleged father in certain suits affecting the
  parent-child relationship.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Part 1, Subchapter B, Chapter 107, Family Code,
  is amended by adding Sections 107.0131, 107.0132, and 107.0133 to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 107.0131.  POWERS AND DUTIES OF ATTORNEY AD LITEM FOR
  PARENT. (a) An attorney ad litem appointed under Section 107.013
  to represent the interests of a parent:
               (1)  shall:
                     (A)  subject to Rules 4.02, 4.03, and 4.04, Texas
  Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and within a reasonable
  time after the appointment, interview:
                           (i)  the parent, unless the parent's
  location is unknown;
                           (ii)  each person who has significant
  knowledge of the case;  and
                           (iii)  the parties to the suit;
                     (B)  investigate the facts of the case;
                     (C)  to ensure competent representation at
  hearings, mediations, pretrial matters, and the trial on the
  merits:
                           (i)  obtain and review copies of all court
  files in the suit during the attorney ad litem's course of
  representation; and
                           (ii)  when necessary, conduct formal
  discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or the discovery
  control plan;
                     (D)  take any action consistent with the parent's
  interests that the attorney ad litem considers necessary to
  expedite the proceedings;
                     (E)  encourage settlement and the use of
  alternative forms of dispute resolution;
                     (F)  review and sign, or decline to sign, a
  proposed or agreed order affecting the parent;
                     (G)  meet before each court hearing with the
  parent, unless the court:
                           (i)  finds at that hearing that the attorney
  ad litem has shown good cause why the attorney ad litem's compliance
  is not feasible; or
                           (ii)  on a showing of good cause, authorizes
  the attorney ad litem to comply by conferring with the parent, as
  appropriate, by telephone or video conference;
                     (H)  become familiar with the American Bar
  Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent
  parents in abuse and neglect cases;
                     (I)  complete at least three hours of continuing
  legal education relating to child protection law as described by
  Subsection (b) as soon as practicable after the attorney ad litem is
  appointed, unless the court finds that the attorney ad litem has
  experience equivalent to that education; and
                     (J)  abide by the parent's objectives of
  representation;
               (2)  must be trained in child protection law or have
  experience determined by the court to be equivalent to that
  training; and
               (3)  is entitled to:
                     (A)  request clarification from the court if the
  role of the attorney ad litem is ambiguous;
                     (B)  request a hearing or trial on the merits;
                     (C)  consent or refuse to consent to an interview
  of the parent by another attorney;
                     (D)  receive a copy of each pleading or other
  paper filed with the court;
                     (E)  receive notice of each hearing in the suit;
                     (F)  participate in any case staffing conducted by
  the Department of Family and Protective Services in which the
  parent is invited to participate, including, as appropriate, a case
  staffing to develop a family plan of service, a family group
  conference, a permanency conference, a mediation, a case staffing
  to plan for the discharge and return of the child to the parent, and
  any other case staffing that the department determines would be
  appropriate for the parent to attend, but excluding any internal
  department staffing or staffing between the department and the
  department's legal representative; and
                     (G)  attend all legal proceedings in the suit.
         (b)  The continuing legal education required by Subsection
  (a)(1)(I) must:
               (1)  be low-cost and available to persons throughout
  this state, including on the Internet provided through the State
  Bar of Texas; and
               (2)  focus on the duties of an attorney ad litem in, and
  the procedures of and best practices for, a proceeding under
  Chapter 262 or 263.
         Sec. 107.0132.  POWERS AND DUTIES OF ATTORNEY AD LITEM FOR
  ALLEGED FATHER. (a)  An attorney ad litem appointed under Section
  107.013 to represent the interests of an alleged father shall:
               (1)  conduct an investigation regarding the
  petitioner's due diligence in locating the alleged father,
  including by verifying that the petitioner has obtained a
  certificate of the results of a search of the paternity registry
  under Chapter 160;
               (2)  interview any party or other person who has
  significant knowledge of the case who may have information relating
  to the identity or location of the alleged father; and
               (3)  conduct an independent investigation to identify
  or locate the alleged father, as applicable.
         (b)  If the attorney ad litem identifies and locates the
  alleged father, the attorney ad litem shall:
               (1)  provide to each party and the court the alleged
  father's name and address and any other locating information; and
               (2)  if appropriate, request the court's approval for
  the attorney ad litem to assist the alleged father in establishing
  paternity.
         (c)  If the alleged father is adjudicated to be a parent of
  the child and is determined by the court to be indigent, the court
  may appoint the attorney ad litem to continue to represent the
  father's interests as a parent under Section 107.013(a)(1) or (c).
         (d)  If the attorney ad litem is unable to identify or locate
  the alleged father, the attorney ad litem shall submit to the court
  a written summary of the attorney ad litem's efforts to identify or
  locate the alleged father with a statement that the attorney ad
  litem was unable to identify or locate the alleged father.
         Sec. 107.0133.  DISCIPLINE OF ATTORNEY AD LITEM FOR PARENT
  OR ALLEGED FATHER. An attorney ad litem appointed for a parent or
  an alleged father who fails to perform the duties required by
  Section 107.0131 or 107.0132, as applicable, is subject to
  disciplinary action under Subchapter E, Chapter 81, Government
  Code.
         SECTION 2.  Sections 107.0131, 107.0132, and 107.0133,
  Family Code, as added by this Act, apply only to an attorney ad
  litem in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship appointed
  on or after the effective date of this Act. An attorney ad litem
  appointed before that date is governed by the law in effect on the
  date the attorney ad litem was appointed, and the former law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2011.
 
 
 
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1026 passed the Senate on
  April 21, 2011, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0; and that
  the Senate concurred in House amendment on May 25, 2011, by the
  following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1026 passed the House, with
  amendment, on May 23, 2011, by the following vote: Yeas 142,
  Nays 0, one present not voting.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
 
  Approved:
 
  ______________________________ 
              Date
 
 
  ______________________________ 
            Governor