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How Domestic Violence Can Affect Child Custody in Texas


When it comes to child custody proceedings, everything comes out of the closet, so to speak. Even mental and physical abuse that happens behind closed doors will almost always be brought to light in the courtroom. This type of abuse, called domestic violence, may affect who will receive primary custody of the children. Depending on the severity of the abuse that occurred, the person who was abusing other members of the family could get limited visitation, supervised visitation, or even lose their parental rights entirely.

Understanding Child Custody Orders

When a judge is determining child custody, they attempt to establish which parent will best serve the emotional and physical needs of the child. In Texas, child custody is divided into two categories: possession/access and conservatorship. Possession and access refers to where the child lives and the frequency in which they visit the other parent. Conservatorship involves who has the right to make important decisions about the child’s medical, religious, educational needs.

Understanding Domestic Violence

The state of Texas sometimes refers to domestic violence as family violence. It occurs when one member of the family causes, or attempts to cause fear of injury or immediate harm or sexual assault of another member of the family. This type of abuse may include mental abuse or physical violence as well as threats to hurt a family member.

There are a number of ways that Texas offers protection for domestic violence victims. One of these is a protective order. This type of order may be appropriate in situations where the abuse has been ongoing, and the victim fears abuse in the future. A protective order will likely be granted by the judge if they determine that abuse has already occurred and is likely to occur again.

Domestic Violence and Custody Orders

When a court determines which parent should have conservatorship and possession of a child, the laws of Texas prevent the court from making the parents joint conservators if there is a history of sexual or physical abuse of one parent against the other parent, child, or spouse. Texas statutes will also prevent a parent from having possession of their child if they have had a history of violence in the past two years or have sexually abused or assaulted the child.

Although a history of domestic violence may limit a parent’s chances at being the sole conservator of a child, they may still have access and custody rights to their child in the following situations:

  • The child’s emotional and physical health would not be endangered by the abusive parent having visitation or access to the child.
  • The abusive parent’s visitation and access to the child would be in the best interests of the child.
  • A visitation order to protect the child is already in place.
  • The abusive parent may have supervised visitation and be required to complete a program for treatment.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today

The Houston attorneys at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. have decades of experiencing helping people just like you navigate their way through the complicated divorce legal system. With the visitation of your child at stake, it is vital to have experienced legal representation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.



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