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The Impact of Domestic Violence on Texas Divorce and Custody Cases

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Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects countless individuals and families in Texas. When domestic violence is present in a marriage, it can have significant implications for divorce and child custody proceedings. At Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, we often help clients, who are victims of family violence, with their divorces and other family law matters. Let’s discuss how Texas law addresses domestic violence in family law cases and the protections available to victims.

Divorce and Domestic Violence in Texas

Under Texas law, domestic violence can serve as grounds for divorce. If you or your children have been subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by your spouse, you may file for divorce on the basis of cruelty.

Under some circumstances, divorces filed on these grounds can be finalized without the typical 60-day waiting period required for no-fault divorces, allowing you to quickly separate from an abusive partner. However, because of the complicated issues in these divorces, it often takes longer than 60 days to finalize the matter.

Additionally, when domestic violence is proven in a divorce case, it can impact the division of assets and spousal support. The court may consider the abuse as a factor in determining a fair distribution of property and whether to award spousal maintenance to the victim. Divorce actions in Texas can also seek damages from the abusive party for any injuries, and related treatment and care for injuries, sustained by the victim of the abuse.

Child Custody and Domestic Violence

In child custody cases involving domestic violence, including divorces in which domestic violence is an issue, Texas courts prioritize the safety and well-being of the child. If there is a history of domestic violence, the court will presume that appointing the abusive parent as sole or joint managing conservator (the term for custody in Texas) is not in the best interests of the child.

Because of this presumption, if you are a parent, and domestic violence is an issue in your case, it can be possible to seek sole managing conservatorship, significantly limiting contact between the child and the abusive parent. Further, as a sole managing conservator, you would have most, if not all, of the rights of a parent in making decisions about and directing, the upbringing of your child.

However, it is important to note that this presumption can be rebutted if the abusive parent demonstrates that they have taken steps to address their behavior and that allowing them access to the child will not endanger the child's physical or emotional well-being.

Protections for Domestic Violence Victims in Texas

Texas law provides several protections for victims of domestic violence:

1. Protective Orders: Victims can petition the court for a protective order, which legally prohibits the abuser from coming near or contacting the victim and their children. Violating a protective order can result in criminal charges.

2. Confidentiality: Victims can request that their contact information be kept confidential during legal proceedings to prevent their abuser from discovering their whereabouts.

3. Housing Protections: Landlords cannot discriminate against or evict tenants solely because they are victims of domestic violence.

4. Employment Protections: Employers cannot discriminate against or terminate employees for taking time off to attend court hearings, seek medical attention, or secure new housing due to domestic violence.

At Coker, Robb & Cannon, we understand the challenges and fears that domestic violence victims face when going through a divorce or child custody battle. Our compassionate and experienced family law attorneys are committed to advocating for your rights, ensuring your safety, and securing the best possible outcome for you and your children.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence and needs legal assistance, please don't hesitate to contact our office for a confidential consultation.

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