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) abide by the parent's objectives for representation;

(I) become familiar with the American Bar Association's standards of practice for attorneys who represent parents in abuse and neglect cases; and

(J) complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to representing parents in child protection cases 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

(2) 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)(J) 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, representing a parent in a proceeding under Subtitle E.

(c) An attorney who is on the list maintained by the court as being qualified for appointment as an attorney ad litem for a parent in a child protection case must complete at least three hours of continuing legal education relating to the representation of a parent in a proceeding under Subtitle E each year before the anniversary date of the attorney's listing.

Comments

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 647 (S.B. 1026), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Amended by:

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 810 (S.B. 1759), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2013.