Domestic Violence and the Parent-Child Relationship in Texas Family Law

Posted by | May 16, 2016 | Uncategorized | No Comments
Family Violence

Family Law Attorney Serving Clients in Austin, TX

Whether you are going through a divorce and are concerned about how the court will make decisions about child custody, or if you have recently been accused of family violence and are worried about how it will impact your ability to maintain custody, an experienced family lawyer in Austin, TX can help.

In Austin, Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code governs the parent-child relationship—or, in other words, child custody. In Texas, child custody is known by the term “conservatorship.” In effect, the term conservatorship is used to make clear what legal rights and responsibilities a parent in Texas has. In determining conservatorship, the court must pay attention to specific provisions concerning family violence. To better understand how a domestic violence conviction can impact a court’s decision concerning the parent-child relationship, we should take a closer look at the statute.

What is Conservatorship in Austin, TX?

Before we explain how a history of family violence or domestic violence can impact a court’s decision about child custody, it is important to understand how conservatorship works. The statute provides for two different kinds of conservatorship in Austin, Texas:

  1. Sole managing conservatorship; and
  2. Joint managing conservatorship.

Conservatorship, or custody, does not refer to the amount of time a child spends with a particular parent. Rather, it refers to a parent’s right to make certain decisions about his or her child’s upbringing, including decisions about healthcare and education.

History of Domestic Violence and Child Custody Decisions

According to the statute, when a court makes a decision about conservatorship, it must take into account past instances of domestic violence. Specifically, the law states that the court “shall consider evidence of the intentional use of abusive physical force, or evidence of sexual abuse, by a party directed against the party’s spouse, a parent of the child, or any person younger than 18 years of age.” And the court looks back two years for evidence of domestic violence.

When the court finds evidence of family violence, the statute specifies the following:

  1. Court may not appoint a joint managing conservatorship if family violence resulted in a pregnancy;
  2. Court shall consider the history of family violence in determining whether it will “deny, restrict, or limit” a child’s time spent with a parent; and
  3. Court may not allow a parent to have access to a child when there is evidence of a recent history or pattern of family violence.

The statute also allows the court to make certain other decisions about child custody when there is evidence of family violence.

Contact an Austin Family Violence Attorney

As you can see, the Texas laws concerning conservatorship and family violence are complicated. A Texas DUI and family violence lawyer can discuss your situation with you today. Contact Buford & Gonzalez to speak with some of the best family law attorneys Austin has to offer.