Texas Family Code - FAM § 33.003. Judicial Approval




(a) A pregnant minor may file an application for a court order authorizing the minor to consent to the performance of an abortion without notification to and consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian.

(b) The application must be filed in:

(1) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in the minor's county of residence;

(2) if the minor's parent, managing conservator, or guardian is a presiding judge of a court described by Subdivision (1):

(A) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in a contiguous county;  or

(B) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in the county where the minor intends to obtain the abortion;

(3) if the minor's county of residence has a population of less than 10,000:

(A) a court described by Subdivision (1);

(B) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in a contiguous county;  or

(C) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in the county in which the facility at which the minor intends to obtain the abortion is located;  or

(4) a county court at law, court having probate jurisdiction, or district court, including a family district court, in the county in which the facility at which the minor intends to obtain the abortion is located, if the minor is not a resident of this state.

(c) The application must:

(1) be made under oath;

(2) include:

(A) a statement that the minor is pregnant;

(B) a statement that the minor is unmarried, is under 18 years of age, and has not had her disabilities removed under Chapter 31;

(C) a statement that the minor wishes to have an abortion without the notification to and consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian;

(D) a statement as to whether the minor has retained an attorney and, if she has retained an attorney, the name, address, and telephone number of her attorney;  and

(E) a statement about the minor's current residence, including the minor's physical address, mailing address, and telephone number;  and

(3) be accompanied by the sworn statement of the minor's attorney under Subsection (r), if the minor has retained an attorney to assist the minor with filing the application under this section.

(d) The clerk of the court shall deliver a courtesy copy of the application made under this section to the judge who is to hear the application.

(e) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor who shall represent the best interest of the minor.  If the minor has not retained an attorney, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the minor.  The guardian ad litem may not also serve as the minor's attorney ad litem.

(f) The court may appoint to serve as guardian ad litem:

(1) a person who may consent to treatment for the minor under Sections 32.001(a)(1)-(3) ;

(2) a psychiatrist or an individual licensed or certified as a psychologist under Chapter 501, Occupations Code;

(3) an appropriate employee of the Department of Family and Protective Services;

(4) a member of the clergy;  or

(5) another appropriate person selected by the court.

(g) The court shall fix a time for a hearing on an application filed under Subsection (a) and shall keep a record of all testimony and other oral proceedings in the action.

(g-1) The pregnant minor must appear before the court in person and may not appear using videoconferencing, telephone conferencing, or other remote electronic means.

(h) The court shall rule on an application submitted under this section and shall issue written findings of fact and conclusions of law not later than 5 p.m. on the fifth business day after the date the application is filed with the court.  On request by the minor, the court shall grant an extension of the period specified by this subsection.  If a request for an extension is made, the court shall rule on an application and shall issue written findings of fact and conclusions of law not later than 5 p.m. on the fifth business day after the date the minor states she is ready to proceed to hearing.  Proceedings under this section shall be given precedence over other pending matters to the extent necessary to assure that the court reaches a decision promptly, regardless of whether the minor is granted an extension under this subsection.

(i) The court shall determine by clear and convincing evidence, as described by Section 101.007 , whether:

(1) the minor is mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision to have an abortion performed without notification to or consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian;  or

(2) the notification and attempt to obtain consent would not be in the best interest of the minor.

(i-1) In determining whether the minor meets the requirements of Subsection (i)(1), the court shall consider the experience, perspective, and judgment of the minor.  The court may:

(1) consider all relevant factors, including:

(A) the minor's age;

(B) the minor's life experiences, such as working, traveling independently, or managing her own financial affairs;  and

(C) steps taken by the minor to explore her options and the consequences of those options;

(2) inquire as to the minor's reasons for seeking an abortion;

(3) consider the degree to which the minor is informed about the state-published informational materials described by Chapter 171, Health and Safety Code;  and

(4) require the minor to be evaluated by a licensed mental health counselor, who shall return the evaluation to the court for review within three business days.

(i-2) In determining whether the notification and the attempt to obtain consent would not be in the best interest of the minor, the court may inquire as to:

(1) the minor's reasons for not wanting to notify and obtain consent from a parent, managing conservator, or guardian;

(2) whether notification or the attempt to obtain consent may lead to physical or sexual abuse;

(3) whether the pregnancy was the result of sexual abuse by a parent, managing conservator, or guardian;  and

(4) any history of physical or sexual abuse from a parent, managing conservator, or guardian.

(i-3) The court shall enter an order authorizing the minor to consent to the performance of the abortion without notification to and consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian and shall execute the required forms if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, as defined by Section 101.007 , that:

(1) the minor is mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision to have an abortion performed without notification to or consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian;  or

(2) the notification and attempt to obtain consent would not be in the best interest of the minor.

(j) If the court finds that the minor does not meet the requirements of Subsection (i-3), the court may not authorize the minor to consent to an abortion without the notification authorized under Section 33.002(a)(1) and consent under Section 33.0021 .

(k) The court may not notify a parent, managing conservator, or guardian that the minor is pregnant or that the minor wants to have an abortion.  The court proceedings shall be conducted in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the identity of the minor.  The application and all other court documents pertaining to the proceedings are confidential and privileged and are not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or to discovery, subpoena, or other legal process.  Confidential records pertaining to a minor under this subsection may be disclosed to the minor.

(l) An order of the court issued under this section is confidential and privileged and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or discovery, subpoena, or other legal process.  The order may not be released to any person but the pregnant minor, the pregnant minor's guardian ad litem, the pregnant minor's attorney, the physician who is to perform the abortion, another person designated to receive the order by the minor, or a governmental agency or attorney in a criminal or administrative action seeking to assert or protect the interest of the minor.  The supreme court may adopt rules to permit confidential docketing of an application under this section.

(l-1) The clerk of the court, at intervals prescribed by the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System, shall submit a report to the office that includes, for each case filed under this section:

(1) the case number and style;

(2) the applicant's county of residence;

(3) the court of appeals district in which the proceeding occurred;

(4) the date of filing;

(5) the date of disposition;  and

(6) the disposition of the case.

(l-2) The Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System shall annually compile and publish a report aggregating the data received under Subsections (l-1)(3) and (6).  A report submitted under Subsection (l-1) is confidential and privileged and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or to discovery, subpoena, or other legal process.  A report under this subsection must protect the confidentiality of:

(1) the identity of all minors and judges who are the subject of the report;  and

(2) the information described by Subsection (l-1)(1).

(m) The clerk of the supreme court shall prescribe the application form to be used by the minor filing an application under this section.

(n) A filing fee is not required of and court costs may not be assessed against a minor filing an application under this section.

(o) A minor who has filed an application under this section may not withdraw or otherwise non-suit her application without the permission of the court.

(p) Except as otherwise provided by Subsection (q), a minor who has filed an application and has obtained a determination by the court as described by Subsection (i) may not initiate a new application proceeding and the prior proceeding is res judicata of the issue relating to the determination of whether the minor may or may not be authorized to consent to the performance of an abortion without notification to and consent of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian.

(q) A minor whose application is denied may subsequently submit an application to the court that denied the application if the minor shows that there has been a material change in circumstances since the time the court denied the application.

(r) An attorney retained by the minor to assist her in filing an application under this section shall fully inform himself or herself of the minor's prior application history, including the representations made by the minor in the application regarding her address, proper venue in the county in which the application is filed, and whether a prior application has been filed and initiated.  If an attorney assists the minor in the application process in any way, with or without payment, the attorney representing the minor must attest to the truth of the minor's claims regarding the venue and prior applications in a sworn statement.





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