How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody Battles in Texas
As of 2018, there were over 212,000 cases of domestic violence in Texas. Wives make up approximately 13 percent of all victims. Domestic violence, defined as a violent or aggressive behavior that takes place at home, is a serious epidemic in the United States. Upwards of 3 million cases are reported each year. However, experts estimate that number is closer to 10 million once you include cases that aren’t reported. In Texas, the courts take cases of domestic violence seriously, and a charge could cost birth parents a total loss of parental rights in a child custody case.
Here’s how domestic violence affects child custody cases in Texas:
Child Custody Laws in Texas
The state of Texas divides child custody into two categories: possession and access and conservatorship. Possession refers to the child’s primary residence. Access refers to how often the child’s other parent can visit with (or have access to) them.
A conservatorship, on the other hand, refers to a parent’s legal responsibility to make all of the educational, legal, medical, and religious decisions for the child. This also includes where the child lives. Parents who share these legal rights enter what’s known as a joint conservatorship, whereas a parent who is solely awarded these rights enters into a sole managing conservatorship.
This distinction is very important in domestic violence cases, as the courts will want to make a decision based on what is in the child’s best interests. And to them, having a relationship with an abusive parent will not likely be in the child’s best interests. However, this isn’t a be-all-end-all type of situation. The parent with a history of domestic violence may still be able to have visitation with their child, as the courts may argue that access to the child in a supervised capacity is acceptable.
The Law Prohibits Parents With a History of Domestic Violence of Entering a Joint Conservatorship
The law in Texas takes domestic violence one step further. Texas law prohibits a parent with a history of domestic violence from entering into a joint conservatorship if he/she splits up from their spouse or partner. This abuse isn’t just physical, either. It can also extend to parents who have a history of sexual or emotional abuse.
Texas defines domestic violence as kicking, punching, raping, or making criminal or abusive threats. This can be to either a current or former partner or child. The definition stands regardless of whether they are related by blood or adopted. The Texas Penal Code recognizes domestic violence as any act that intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another person, knowingly causes bodily harm/injury to someone, and intentionally threatens them with bodily harm.
How Can an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Help?
In many domestic violence cases, the victim will not want to meet face to face with their abuser. This is one area where an experienced child custody lawyer can help. Your lawyer can also work as a mediator so you can limit your interaction with the other parent.
Furthermore, the lawyer will guide you through the process and let you know what to expect from a protection order. They will tell you how to obtain proof of the abuse. You’ll learn how to handle supervised visitation or full termination of the other parent’s legal rights. They will also have resources you can turn to for support.
What if You’ve Been Falsely Accused?
Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic violence do occur in about 10 percent of child custody cases. Emotions run high during divorce proceedings, and it’s not uncommon for one spouse to try and sabotage their ex’s chances of obtaining child custody by falsifying claims of domestic violence.
Oftentimes, in cases like this, the judge will issue a protective order against the alleged perpetrator, which means they will have to leave their home and their child.
This can negatively work against you in court, and it requires the assistance of a skilled family lawyer who can advocate for your rights so you’re not penalized for something that didn’t happen.
Are You Dealing With a Child Custody Case That Involves Domestic Violence? Contact the Hager Law Firm for Help
Child custody is contentious as is, even before you add in a history of domestic violence. Judges in Texas will always put children first and evaluate a number of factors to decide what course of action is in the child’s best interests. While this is important, you also want an attorney who will do this for you and your child, too. Attorney Sarina D. Hager of the Hager Law Firm will make your child’s safety a top priority.
She will work with you to guide you through the complex process of divorce and child custody in Texas. She’ll also be your biggest advocate. Call her today at (903) 466-0001 to schedule a family law consultation.