What Domestic Violence Allegations Mean for Child Custody in Texas
Unfortunately, domestic violence remains a serious issue. According to estimates from the Texas Council on Family Violence, approximately 33% of people in our state will be a victim of domestic violence at least once during the course of their life. Domestic violence is a criminal offense. It can also have major implications for family law rights—including child custody and child visitation. Here, our Fort Worth family law attorney explains how allegations of domestic violence can impact child custody in Texas.
Legal Background: The Best Interests of the Child are Paramount in Texas
Child custody matters are always handled on a case-by-case basis in our state. Texas uses the best interests of the child standard to resolve any legal disputes related to custody and visitation. What is best for the child is always paramount. It takes precedence over other factors, including the preferences of the parents. Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002 is clear: It is the official public policy in the state that children should be provided with “a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment.” With this standard in mind, it is crucial that parents understand the implications of domestic violence. A parent who is accused of domestic violence could potentially lose his or her rights.
Texas Courts are Compelled to Consider Any Evidence of Domestic Violence
In applying the best interests of the child standards, Texas courts are authorized to consider a wide range of different factors that could impact the physical safety and emotional well-being of a child. Notably, courts in Texas are legally required to consider and evaluate any evidence of domestic violence or sexual abuse by one (or both) of the parents (Tex. Fam. Code § 153.004).
Under this statute, a Texas court cannot grant a parent a joint managing conservatorship (shared child custody) if there has been domestic violence committed within the previous two years. In other words, domestic violence allegations, even without a criminal conviction, could cost a parent their custody rights.
Custody Matters are Handled on a Case-by-Case Basis in Texas
Domestic violence has major ramifications for a child custody case in Texas. What exactly will happen depends on the specific circumstances. A custody proceeding that involves allegations of domestic violence could result in:
- An award of sole legal custody (sole managing conservatorship) to one parent;
- A requirement that the perpetrator of domestic violence must be limited to supervised visitation;
- A complete termination of parental rights of the perpetrator; and
- A finding that domestic violence allegations cannot be substantiated—which could lead to shared custody or even sole custody for the party accused of abuse.
Get Help From a Child Custody Lawyer in North Texas Today
At The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, we are committed to protecting the rights and interests of our clients. We are qualified to handle the full range of family law cases, including domestic violence matters. Contact us today to arrange a strictly confidential, no obligation initial consultation. With a law office in Fort Worth, we provide family law representation throughout North Texas.