How Does Domestic Violence Affect Custody?

Often, people tend to keep mental or physical abuse a secret - unless, that is, child custody is at stake. When the issue of child custody is before the court, one parent may want to obtain sole custody to prevent the child from living with an abusive parent. The court will consider a history or threat of domestic violence when making a custody determination.

Best Interests of the Child

All courts in Texas are required to make custody decisions based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child. There are many factors to consider, including whether one parent may pose a threat to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. If one parent has previously engaged in domestic violence, it will certainly weigh against them in the custody case.

Texas law is strict when it comes to protecting children from abuse. If one parent engaged in domestic violence against the child or another immediate family member within the past two years, the court should not grant physical possession of the child to that parent. The same is true if the parent directly abused the child in question in the past.

In some cases, however, the court may find that cutting off contact with the abusive parent altogether might not be in the best interests of the child. The court may decide that the child would not be in danger of physical or emotional harm if the parent has visitation rights or limited access to the child. Visitations might be ordered as supervised, which could involve supervision by a grandparent, another relative, or someone from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. A supervised visitation order requires that the parent does not have time alone with the child, and this is a common resolution in domestic violence situations.

In other cases, the court may determine that the abuse was so severe that the abusive parent’s rights are completely terminated. This generally only occurs in extreme circumstances, though it can happen. For example, if a parent sexually assaulted a child or caused serious physical injuries to a child, they might have their parental rights taken away completely.

Protective Orders

If one parent obtains a protective order against a violent parent, the order might require the abuser to stay away from the child, as well. This will certainly impact a custody order, and you should discuss how a protective order will affect your custody case with an experienced family lawyer.

Seek Help from a Fort Worth Family Law Attorney Right Away

Law Office of J. Kevin Clark knows how frightening situations involving domestic violence can be. We assist clients who have experienced domestic violence and are now facing a custody case. We also help clients who are wrongfully accused of abuse and risk losing access to their children. Call (817) 241-3328 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today.

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