FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2017
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN, TX - Today, Senate Bill 539 authored by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa was voted out of the Senate and will advance to the House for consideration. SB 539 requires mediators that handle child custody cases to complete 4 hours of domestic violence training.
Currently, mediators that handle child custody cases have no domestic violence training requirement. To qualify as an impartial third party, a person must complete a minimum of 40 hours of training in dispute resolution techniques and an additional 24 hours of training in the fields of family dynamics, child development, and family law. Other professionals involved in child custody cases such as parenting time coordinators and child custody evaluators must have training on domestic violence.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"In 2015, five Texas women were murdered during custody exchanges. Overall, eleven children witnessed their mothers murdered, highlighting the need for improved and safer custody solutions. Child custody mediators need the tools to identify abusive behavior in the mediation process. SB 539 will increase safety for survivors and their children by requiring domestic violence training for mediators."
An alternative to custody litigation, mediation increasingly serves as a less expensive and more timely option. Most family law attorneys and advocates recently surveyed indicated mediation is a practice utilized with survivor parents in child custody cases. Mediators with a base level of domestic violence knowledge can help accomplish safety in the mediation process.