AUSTIN–The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee voted Representative Dan Flynn’s (R-Van) American Law in American Courts bill out of committee Tuesday. Representative Flynn introduced bills in the last three legislative sessions to address the foreign law issue. Foreign law is often applied in Texas cases concerning foreign divorce orders, child support and property settlements. In addition, sometimes spouses enter into agreements to have foreign law applied to their disputes.
“My colleagues and I here at the Texas Legislature want to make sure Texas judges never apply foreign law in Texas courts in violation of constitutional rights and the public policy of our state,” Representative Flynn stated. “It is an issue that has the ability to affect the core values of Texas and American Law.”
In June, 2015, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued opinion KP-0094 at Representative Flynn’s request, stating that Texas law already prohibits violations of constitutional rights and public policy when foreign law is applied. Representative Flynn gave the Attorney General 19 scenarios that cover the family law landscape to which the Attorney General opined that Texas law already prohibits such violations.
Therefore, no changes in substantive law are needed but additional rules of evidence and procedure might aid the courts and litigants in fully and uniformly applying the current law. The bill provides that a number of current federal and state statutes that establish procedures to protect against violations of constitutional rights and public policy will prevail in the event of a conflict with the Court’s rules.
“New legislation would not become effective until September, 2017. There must be limits on judges when foreign law comes into their courts,” Representative Flynn said. “I want to make sure judges know today what the law is as this is in an issue that affects the entire State of Texas.”