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Impact of Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders on Custody

Attorneys Assisting Dallas Residents in Family Law Disputes

Domestic disputes are a reality that must be considered in many Texas custody cases. While in all custody cases, several factors are weighed to determine which arrangement will be in the best interest of the child involved, a history of domestic violence by a parent can significantly affect the court’s decision regarding that parent’s custodial rights. If you are involved in a custody dispute that may be affected by a history of domestic violence, you should meet with a knowledgeable Dallas child custody lawyer to discuss how any events of domestic violence or protective orders may affect your custodial rights. At the McClure Law Group, our experienced attorneys can assess the facts of your case and help you formulate a strategy to seek a custodial arrangement that is in your child’s best interest.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence

Under Texas law, domestic violence occurs when a person assaults a member of his or her family or household, or a current or prior romantic partner. This includes any act that causes a bodily injury or a threat of such an injury. Domestic violence is not solely limited to making physical contact with another person, since threats of bodily injury constitute domestic violence as well.

Protective Orders

Known as restraining orders in other jurisdictions, protective orders prevent further abuse in situations involving domestic violence. If a person can prove a danger of domestic violence, he or she can request an Emergency Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, without notifying the person against whom the order will be issued, to protect against imminent harm. A final hearing will be held on the application for a Protective Order shortly thereafter. A court will not grant a Final Protective Order unless the party seeking the order can show that it is more likely than not that domestic violence has occurred and will occur again in the future. Protective orders can prevent the offender from making further contact with the victim and in most cases will affect the offender’s right to custody and visitation of any child whom he or she co-parents with the victim.

Custody in Cases Involving Domestic Violence

In Texas custody disputes, the law provides a rebuttable presumption that it is the best interest of a child for both parents to be appointed as joint managing conservators for the child. In cases in which there is a history of domestic violence, however, the presumption is removed, and the court will typically appoint the non-offender parent as the child’s sole managing conservator. Depending on the severity and frequency of the domestic violence, the offender parent may be a possessory conservator. Additionally the offender may be denied visitation or have it supervised.

Supervised Visitation

Even if one parent has a history of abuse, he or she may not be completely denied visitation rights. The court determining the custody arrangement will consider whether the child’s health will be affected by visitation with the abusive parent and whether the child will benefit from the visitation. In Texas, there is a presumption that it is not in the best interest of a child to have unsupervised visitation with a parent with a history of domestic violence. As a result, in most cases involving domestic violence, the court will impose restrictions on the abusive parent and require supervised visitation. When a parent is subject to an order requiring supervised visitation, the parent can only spend time with the child in the presence of a designated adult.

Termination of Parental Rights

A court will only grant a termination of parental rights in the most extreme cases. Typically, these cases involve instances of severe or persistent abuse. In some cases, however, a single instance of extreme violence can be a basis for the termination of parental rights. As with any custody issue, the court will completely sever the rights of a parent only if it finds this to be in the best interest of the child.

Meet With a Dallas Attorney to Discuss Your Custody Issue

If you are embroiled in a custody dispute involving a history of domestic violence, it is important to retain an attorney who is proficient in dealing with domestic violence in Texas family law cases. The attorneys at the McClure Law Group recognize the devastating impact of domestic violence and can assist you in the delicate process of handling the complexities that may arise in your custody case. We can be reached at 214.692.8200 or through our online form to schedule a meeting.

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