Many divorces in Texas happen precisely because one spouse has committed family violence against the other spouse.
In many other cases, while it might not be the exact reason for the divorce, domestic violence between spouses or between a spouse and children is still a concern.
Not surprisingly, Texas law offers victims of family violence who are trying to get out of their situation several layers of protection.
These protections pertain to a number of aspects of divorce, especially conservatorship, which is Texas’s term for child custody.
Credible accusations of family violence can cut a parent off from his or her kids
A judge who hears evidence of family violence during a child custody proceeding and finds it credible must consider it when making a decision.
Specifically, the judge may not award legal conservatorship, that is, decision-making authority, to someone who has been credibly accused of family violence.
Generally speaking, the judge will grant all rights to make important decision to the spouse who did not commit abuse.
The end result is that the accused parent will have a very limited ability to make decisions about the healthcare, religious and moral upbringing and education of his or her child.
Moreover, since the judge is allowed to take steps to ensure the child’s well-being even if that means limiting a parent’s rights, the judge may order supervised visits if the judge believes a parent committed family violence.
All of these protections can be both good and bad things depending on the circumstances. For a parent who is trying to avoid a pattern of domestic violence, these protections are lifelines.
However, for a parent who has been falsely accused, they can mean being unfairly cut off from his or her children.