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When There is Domestic Violence in the Home: How Domestic Violence Affects a Divorce in Texas

Domestic violence, also known as family violence, is a common issue in many divorce cases in Texas, affecting people regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, or financial status.

And while divorce in itself is an already stressful and painful time for most couples, the divorce proceedings can be even more traumatizing for spouses who have been victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, the signs of domestic violence go deeper than its physical aspects. Often, spouses who abuse their partners manipulate them into not wanting to end the marriage, using blackmail, gaslighting, and other psychological tactics to control their partner.

Domestic violence can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional, psychological, or verbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse

If domestic violence is a motivating factor in your divorce, or if you or your children fear for your lives or safety, you need to talk with a Texas divorce attorney right away. Depending on your circumstances, domestic violence may affect issues and outcomes in your divorce.

How Domestic Violence May Impact Your Divorce Timeline in Texas

According to Section 6.702 of the Texas Family Code, a divorce can only be final at least 60 days after filing of the divorce petition. The court, however, may provide an exemption if an offense involving domestic violence is involved.

Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

In addition, the court may see fit to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and other similar emergency protections to protect you and your family. In divorce cases involving domestic violence, most judges tend to make orders to keep you and/or your children safe, such as prohibiting your spouse from being within a certain distance from you or prohibiting all contact with you and the children.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

Texas law prohibits a court from making both parents joint conservators if it is established that one parent has showed a history or pattern of physical or sexual abuse against the other parent, spouse, or child. In addition, Texas law explicitly forbids a parent from having custody of a child if that parent has sexually assaulted or physically abused the child in question during the previous two years.

Domestic Violence and Visitation Rights

While one parent’s history of domestic violence tends to kill any chance of him or her getting sole child custody, a court judge can still find it reasonable to award visitation rights, particularly if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child:

  • The child’s physical and emotional health would not be placed in any danger by the abusive parent’s visitation;
  • The abusive parent’s access/visitation is crucial for the child’s well-being and development;
  • The abusive parent agrees to have visitations supervised;
  • The abusive parent agrees to attend a treatment program, such as anger management or rehab.
Domestic Violence and Property Division

As a community property state, Texas law states that the court can use its best judgment to divide community property, or assets acquired by both spouses during marriage, according to what it finds is “just and right.” Not surprisingly, a history of abuse or domestic violence can influence how a judge sees what is “just and right” in a divorce.

A divorce involving an abusive relationship can be incredibly difficult to manage on your own. Get in touch with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm to discuss how best to protect yourself and the safety of your children. Call our offices today at 512.215.5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.

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