The first equal parenting bill of the Texas 86th legislative session just made it onto the books. Rep. Mayes Middleton, a newly elected Texas State Representative has thrown his hat into the ring. Last time a legislator proposed an equal parenting bill in Texas was Gilbert Pena, then also a freshman legislator, who did not get elected for a second term. HB 2157 was officially filed on February 21, 2019. If this bill passes it would require the judge to order an equal parenting plan if joint custody is ordered unless the judge felt that this division of parenting time was not in the best interest of the child. Nothing in this Bill changes anything else in the Texas Family Code. It is not retroactive and the passage of this bill does not provide a change in circumstance.

This bill does not modify best interest. This bill adds an equal parenting order option to Subchapter F, Standard Possession Order section of Title 5, Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code that addresses the parent-child relationship, parental rights, duties, and responsibilities of parents in divorce or separation. If it passes, equal parenting would go into effect for Texas on September 1, 2019 for all suits affecting the parent-child relationships (SAPCR).

Rep. Middleton is a conservative republican activist and independent oil and gas business owner, 7th generation Texan, and represents the southeastern section of Houston with offices in Galveston and Wallisville. He likes to go by Mayes and also runs a ranching, cattle, and farming operations. He has a bachelor of arts degree in Plan II Honors, business finance, and a Doctor in Jurisprudence. He has twin 4-year-old boys and a baby son who was born in September. He is from Wallisville, Texas. He is also an activist and has served on the Empower Texans Foundation, served on the Board of Texas Public Policy Foundation, co-founded the Chambers County Ethical Government Board, and list of many other accomplishments. And it looks like he is going to add several more accomplishments to that list during his term as state representative.

The introduced text of the bill Middleton sponsored is as follows:

86R1798 JSC-D
By: Middleton H.B. No. 2157


relating to equal parenting orders in suits affecting the
parent-child relationship.
       SECTION 1.  Section 153.001(a), Family Code, is amended to
read as follows:
       (a)  The public policy of this state is to:
             (1)  assure that children will have frequent and
continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in
the best interest of the child;
             (2)  provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment
for the child; and
             (3)  encourage parents to share equally in the rights
and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated
or dissolved their marriage.
       SECTION 2.  Section 153.134, Family Code, is amended by
adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:
       (c)  If the court renders an order appointing the parents
joint managing conservators under this section, the court shall
enter a possession order under Subchapter F-1 that provides for
equal parenting, unless the court determines that order is not in
the best interest of the child, in which case the court may enter:
             (1)  a standard possession order as provided by
Subchapter F; or
             (2)  another order regarding possession that the court
determines is in the best interest of the child.
       SECTION 3.  Chapter 153, Family Code, is amended by adding
Subchapter F-1 to read as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a court shall,
as an alternative to the standard possession order under Subchapter
F, enter an order providing for periods of possession of a child in
accordance with this subchapter if the court:
             (1)  appoints the parents joint managing conservators
under Section 153.134; and
             (2)  determines that the order would be in the best
interest of the child.
ORDER. (a) Subject to Subsection (b), a court may enter an order
under this subchapter that provides that each parent has the right
to possession of the child under a schedule specified by the court,
provided that:
             (1)  the schedule may not grant possession to a parent
for a number of days each year that exceeds the number of days of
possession granted to the other parent for that year by more than
five days; and
             (2)  the schedule must alternate on a yearly basis the
parent who is granted possession for a number of days for the year
that exceeds the number of days granted to the other parent.
       (b)  A court shall provide parents with the opportunity to
select by agreement a schedule for possession described by
Subsection (a), subject to the court’s determination that the
proposed schedule is in the best interest of the child. If the
parents do not agree, the court may order possession under any
schedule described by Subsection (a).
       SECTION 4.  The enactment of this Act does not constitute a
material and substantial change of circumstances sufficient to
warrant modification of a court order or portion of a decree that
provides for the possession of or access to a child rendered before
the effective date of this Act.
       SECTION 5.  The change in law made by this Act applies to a
suit affecting the parent-child relationship that is pending in a
trial court on the effective date of this Act or that is filed on or
after the effective date of this Act.
       SECTION 6.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.