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Violence allegations complicate child custody cases

| Mar 29, 2021 | Firm News |

Many times, relationship between end precisely because one parents has become physically or otherwise abusive. In other cases, divorces or non-marital breakups are what prompt victims of abuse to speak up.

Unfortunately, there are also situations in which one parent has exaggerated or even just made up allegations of abuse against the other parent, perhaps in an effort to get an advantage in a conservatorship proceeding. (Conservatorship is how Texas law refers to child custody cases.)

Credible abuse allegations can mean a parent will not have custody or visits

Texas law takes domestic violence seriously and strongly favors keeping children and other victims safe from perpetrators.

Courts are supposed to take a history of abuse or family violence or neglect when making decisions about which parent will have the authority to make decisions for a child and how much time each parent will have the child.

Speaking generally, the court will look for evidence of abuse, including a protective order or a criminal conviction, within the two years prior the filing of a divorce or other family law case.

If the court finds evidence, then the accused parent will face at least two consequences.

First, he or she will most likely not have an authority to make important decisions on behalf of his or her child, including decisions about where the child will live.

Furthermore, the accused parent will have to demonstrate that he or she is capable of having unsupervised parenting time with the children. Otherwise, the court will order supervised visits only.

It is important to realize that parents do not have to be convicted of a crime or receive a protective order in order to face these consequences. If the court believes it is more likely than not that he or she has a recent history of domestic violence, then the parent may find his or her rights seriously limited.

Both victims of domestic violence and those accused of it face a significant challenge in a custody dispute. They should review and evaluate their legal options carefully.