Many couples in the greater Houston area from all walks of life are secretly dealing with domestic violence in their relationships.
Many times, Texans finally get the courage to get out of an abusive situation, and this is what prompts a couple to divorce or, in the case of unmarried couples, split up.
Not surprisingly, a victim of abuse is not going to want a perpetrator to get conservatorship, that is custody, or possession and access to the children. In other words, co-parenting may be both impractical and unsafe in domestic violence situations.
In custody cases, Texas law offers victims, children protection from abuse
Under Texas law, courts must consider evidence that one parent has abused her spouse or the other parent. The court must look back to the two years prior to the filing of a divorce or other custody action.
If there is evidence of abuse to support an allegation, then by default the accused parent may not have conservatorship over his children. This means he will not have a role in major decisions about the child, including decisions about where the child lives.
Additionally, the court may consider a history of abuse as grounds either to deny the parent visits altogether or to restrict them.
An accused parent may have to demonstrate that he will not pose a threat to the child before having unrestricted visits. On a related point, the judge may prohibit overnight visits, order supervised visits or mandate counseling in an effort to prevent domestic violence.
An abuse victim should not hesitate to invoke these protections, but she will need to organize and document her case carefully.
On the other hand, a parent who feels he is being falsely accused of abuse will need to understand his rights and options if he wants to be able to maintain a relationship with his children.