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Texas Senate Advances Law Prohibiting Use of Unconstitutional Foreign Laws in Family Court Matters

Can a Texas family court incorporate foreign laws, customs, or traditions in its decision-making process?

Family law is known for its multi-jurisdictional component, with parents often living in separate states or countries. Also, new Texas residents with out-of-state judgments must go through the exercise of enrolling their foreign judgment in the state of Texas to ensure its enforceability in the event of a conflict. In the end, the procedural and jurisdictional considerations involved in a complex family law matter can quickly reach global proportions – prompting lawmakers to consider whether certain customs and practices in other nations are appropriate for inclusion in Texas family law orders.

Legislature takes aim at ‘unconstitutional’ practices

With thousands of cultures and standard practices at play across the globe, it is not uncommon for a family law order to reach Texas courts containing a questionable requirement or mandate – particularly with regard to divorce or child-related orders. As a result, the Texas legislature made certain the American constitutional laws protecting children take precedence over any Full Faith and Credit argument, and included the following language in the recent Senate Bill 531:

A ruling or decision of a court, arbitrator, or administrative adjudicator in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship may not be based on a foreign law if the application of that law would violate a fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the constitution or a statute of this state.

The bill, which becomes fully enforceable as of September 1, 2015, works to ensure that all children are afforded the same constitutional protections regardless of their nation of origin. More specifically, the bill seeks to avoid the unintentional enforcement of orders which work to oppress or subjugate foreign-born children, or unlawfully prevent children from accessing their parent or siblings.

If you are in need of assistance with your family law matter and would like to speak to a reputable attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Austin, Texas family law attorneys at Stinson Moyle today: (512) 948-3688.