Like other states, Texas takes domestic violence seriously on multiple levels. For instance, in addition to criminal charges, Texas family law judges have the authority to restrict custody, that is conservatorship, and visitation upon hearing credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred. This is true even if there has been no criminal charge against the suspect.
Basically, a judge can consider a pattern of domestic violence in her custody decisions, as well as specific incidents during the course of the divorce or custody case and the two years prior. Under the right circumstances, the law will require the judge to award conservatorship to the victim, not the perpetrator of the violence, unless the perpetrator can affirmatively show that he or she is still the best custodian for the children.
Moreover, under other circumstances, such as if the judge finds that there has been a relatively recent pattern of domestic abuse, then the judge can deny visitation to the perpetrator altogether. Generally speaking, if the offending parent can convince the judge that it wouldn’t harm the child to have some visits, then visits will be supervised or restricted in some way.
These laws, which are actually stricter than those in many other states, offer protection to victims of domestic violence and their children. However, even though it doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal case, a victim still has to prove his or her allegations. This will mean telling his or her story to the judge, even though it can be frightening to do so.
Particularly during this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, having the help of an experienced family law attorney can be a valuable tool for a victim to stand up for herself, or himself, and get cleanly out of an abusive relationship.