Wednesday, March 21, 2007
What is a 'FRIEND OF THE COURT" in Texas?
FRIEND OF THE COURT Sec. 202.001. APPOINTMENT. (a) After an order for child support or possession of or access to a child has been rendered, a court may appoint a friend of the court on: (1) the request of a person alleging that the order has been violated; or (2) its own motion. (b) A court may appoint a friend of the court in a proceeding under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.) only if the Title IV-D agency agrees in writing to the appointment. (c) The duration of the appointment of a friend of the court is as determined by the court. (d) In the appointment of a friend of the court, the court shall give preference to: (1) a local domestic relations office; (2) a local child support collection office; (3) the local court official designated to enforce actions as provided in Chapter 159; or (4) an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Texas. (e) In the execution of a friend of the court's duties under this subchapter, a friend of the court shall represent the court to ensure compliance with the court's order. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Sec. 202.002. AUTHORITY AND DUTIES. (a) A friend of the court may coordinate nonjudicial efforts to improve compliance with a court order relating to child support or possession of or access to a child by use of: (1) telephone communication; (2) written communication; (3) one or more volunteer advocates under Chapter 107; (4) informal pretrial consultation; (5) one or more of the alternate dispute resolution methods under Chapter 154, Civil Practice and Remedies Code; (6) a licensed social worker; (7) a family mediator; and (8) employment agencies, retraining programs, and any similar resources to ensure that both parents can meet their financial obligations to the child. (b) A friend of the court, not later than the 15th day of the month following the reporting month: (1) shall report to the court or monitor reports made to the court on: (A) the amount of child support collected as a percentage of the amount ordered; and (B) efforts to ensure compliance with orders relating to possession of or access to a child; and (2) may file an action to enforce, clarify, or modify a court order relating to child support or possession of or access to a child. (c) A friend of the court may file a notice of delinquency and a request for a writ of income withholding under Chapter 158 in order to enforce a child support order. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 81, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 702, Sec. 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 892, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. Sec. 202.003. DUTY OF LOCAL OFFICES AND OFFICIALS TO REPORT. A local domestic relations office, a local registry, or a court official designated to receive child support under a court order shall, if ordered by the court, report to the court or a friend of the court on a monthly basis: (1) any delinquency and arrearage in child support payments; and (2) any violation of an order relating to possession of or access to a child. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Sec. 202.004. ACCESS TO INFORMATION. A friend of the court may arrange access to child support payment records by electronic means if the records are computerized. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Sec. 202.005. COMPENSATION. (a) A friend of the court is entitled to compensation for services rendered and for expenses incurred in rendering the services. (b) The court may assess the amount that the friend of the court receives in compensation against a party to the suit in the same manner as the court awards costs under Chapter 106. (c) A friend of the court or a person who acts as the court's custodian of child support records, including the clerk of a court, may apply for and receive funds from the child support and court management account under Section 21.007, Government Code. (d) A friend of the court who receives funds under Subsection (c) shall use the funds to reimburse any compensation the friend of the court received under Subsection (b). Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.