Vote YES for HB4240
Vote YES for HB4240
It is sponsored by Reps. Richard Peña Raymond, Mayes Middleton, and in the Senate by Judith Zaffirini, Texas State Senator. We are thankful for their sponsorship of this effort. We are working hard to get this passed and need your signature on this petition that will go to the Texas State Senators, Lt. Governor, and Governor Abbott!
We are on the cusp of making a REAL DIFFERENCE for parents that are unfairly denied their court-assigned rights to have access to their minor children! We have fought for years to get to a point where we could have our voices heard! That time is now! We need to ask the Texas State Senate and the Texas Lt. Governor to help us get this passed!
The fallout of a high conflict divorce does not end at the judge's ruling on how the family's assets are divided. Rather this is just the beginning of a potentially long descent into using children as weapons to inflict pain and revenge on a former spouse. One of the main battlegrounds in this fight is access to children after divorce. Beyond the laws of decency, there are few legal constraints for a parent willing to involve children to further their agenda of hurt. The Family Law courts of Texas are adversarial by design and there is no reason to believe this contest of wills ends with a Judge's ruling.
The marriage rate in Texas has decreased 50.7%* since the adoption of the current Family law statutes in the 1980s. Yet the number of modifications has increases 421%** in this same period. These numbers clearly should worry anyone concerned with our society.
How HB4240 can help by adding a citation to the current Penal Code 25.03. Interference with Child Custody
- This legislation does involve a fine for Interference with Child Custody, however, the fine is not a deterrent. The deterrent is multiple citations create a paper trail that could be introduced into Family Court. We expect Family Law attorneys to advise their clients of the potential harm of denying visitation. The result could be a change of custody. As such, we expect very few repeat citations. This legislation attempts to educate parents rather than incarcerate them. This legislation only affects current Judges' orders.
This legislation brings almost immediate resolution compared to bringing a suit in family court for contempt. Family courts are backed up several years and can cost thousands of dollars to bring a modification. This legislation brings immediate relief to parents and children of divorce.
District Attorneys have told me it is easier to collect child support from parents that have visitation. The OAG review of Child Support*** confirms this. The Federal Government also recognized this issue when they created the Access & Visitation Grants each state receives.
District attorneys have asked for easier enforcement of Interference with Child Custody. Currently, this statute is a State Jail Felony. District Attorneys would rather put their valuable resources into violent crimes. Interference with Child Custody cases requires a lot of investigation time, resources, and is hard to get past a grand jury. The most likely defense is a counterclaim of fleeing abuse, which is an affirmative defense in this statute.
Law enforcement departments take their lead from the District Attorney, who is the top cop in the County. However, while the District Attorney has complete discretion on what cases to accept, law enforcement is bound to follow the law, which requires intervention and reporting. The result is an enormous waste of resources at the law enforcement level for a case that the District Attorney will most likely not accept. The largest cities in Texas each generate up to 20,000 reports a year for Interference with Child Custody and typically develop and present about 2,000 cases a year to a District Attorney who may accept 1 case a year.
HB4240 will help unclog Family Court backlogs, provide easier enforcement of ICC, facilitates child support, and unites families.
Texas dept. of State Health Services: Vital Statistics*
Annual Statistical Report for the Texas Judiciary**
OAG mandated review, Cynthia Osborne, Johnson Center for Public Affairs***