Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Fault in Divorce

iStock-1163040189Divorces may be granted without fault, but Texas still allows divorce to be granted on fault-based grounds in certain situations.  For example, a Texas divorce may be granted in one spouse’s favor if the other committed “cruel treatment” that makes the parties continuing to live together “insupportable.” Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.002.  Physical abuse can constitute cruel treatment, but physical abuse is not required for a Texas divorce court to find cruel treatment.  When the court finds fault-based grounds for divorce, such as cruel treatment, the court may consider the fault in dividing the property. Specifically, the court can award a disproportionate share of the community estate to the spouse who is not at fault. A husband recently challenged such a disproportionate property division in his divorce.

The wife said the husband stopped paying attention to her after his business partnership went sour.  She also said he had called her names and accused her of cheating, in addition to being violent against her around four or five times.

The wife alleged that, during one incident, the husband had closed a door on her arm after he had filed for divorce.  She called the police, and the husband agreed to leave.  The husband, however, claimed that he had simply closed the door after the wife left the room, but she forced it back open.  He claimed the door hit him, then whipped back toward her and hit her elbow.  He said he agreed to leave for a few hours after the police arrived, but ultimately decided to leave permanently so their child would not see them argue.

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What is a Mediated Settlement Agreement?

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A mediated settlement agreement (“MSA”) in a Texas divorce is binding if it meets certain requirements.  It must state that it is not subject to revocation in bold letters, capital letters or underlined text.  It must also be signed by each party and the party’s attorney, if present. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.602.  Some Texas courts have held that an MSA may be unenforceable if it is obtained by fraud, duress or coercion.

A husband recently challenged an MSA, partly on the grounds that he allegedly signed it under duress.

The parties had been married since 1981.  Some of the property acquired during the marriage was held by a limited partnership in which the parties owned a 95% interest.  In August 2017, the husband was arrested after the wife reported he had threatened her with a firearm.  The wife filed for divorce the very next day.

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A pattern of family violence can have a significant impact on custody issues in Texas. In Interest of DM, a Texas appellate court considered the impact of family violence in determining who should be managing conservator for children.

The father and mother appealed from the trial court’s order related to their parent-child relationship to three of their four children. They argued there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that having a joint managing conservatorship over the three children would impair their emotional development or physical health.

The couple’s first child was born in 1998, and the second was born two years later. When they were six and eight, their parents started using methamphetamine, sometimes while the kids were in the house and on a daily basis. The mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and tried to kill herself six times, blaming the father and wanting the kids to know this.

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are flooding the media with news of their divorce and allegations of family violence. This blog post is not here to pick sides between Team Amber or Team Depp, but we do want to explain the difference between a Protective Order and a Temporary Restraining Order, and what to do if you need either of those.

There is a lot of confusion about how to protect yourself from family violence in Texas. Many clients approach our law firm asking for a restraining order, but what they really want is a protective order. Here is the difference:

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As a family law attorney, we are involved in a wide array of domestic issues ranging from a husband and wife who have simply fallen out of love and grown apart over the years, to situations involving infidelity and the very real emotional damage that echoes for years to come even after the divorce is finalized, to situations involving children—who will take the kids to baseball practice?  Who will be responsible for paying for their health insurance?  How will their expenses be handled?

But above all of the complications and struggles that pervade the separation and dissolution of a family unit, there is one issue that the parties, their attorneys, and the Courts place a priority on addressing, and that is family violence.  Continue Reading ›

The Texas legislature has taken a strong stance against family violence. Title IV of the Texas Family Code codifies the injunctive remedy of Family Violence Protective Orders. In Texas, an Applicant for a Title IV Protective Order must first satisfy the venue requirements and have a qualifying relationship with the Respondent. In limited situations, an Applicant may be afforded the opportunity to apply for a Title IV Protective Order on behalf of another. Continue Reading ›

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