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Domestic violence and child custody in Texas

For many people in San Antonio and throughout the rest of the country, divorce may be viewed as their ticket out of an abusive marriage. Yet for those who have children, the concern remains over what sort of access their abusive spouses may have to their children after they separate. Their worries appear to be well-founded: information shared by The National Council on Family Relations showed that in certain cases, the likelihood of spousal abusers to turn that abuse on to their children was as high as 67 percent.

For those with such fears, Texas law offers certain protections. According to the state’s Family Code, a parent against whom there is sufficient evidence that he or she engaged in physical or sexual abuse of his or her spouse or children within the previous two years cannot be a candidate for sole managing conservatorship. In fact, the court may further decide to deny even possessory conservatorship if such evidence exists. Incidents of child neglect may also qualify one to lose such rights.

Having a history of abuse in marriage does not, however, automatically exclude the abusing parent from any custodial rights. He or she may be granted visitation or possessory custody with the following provisions:

  •          All access to his or her children happens under the watch or a court-appointed supervisor.
  •          Exchanges of custody happen in a safe setting.
  •          He or she agrees to abstain from drug and alcohol use immediately prior to and during custody periods.
  •          He or she attend a domestic violence prevention program.

On top of these requirements, the court must still be convinced that it is in the best interest of the children to have such access to a formerly abusive parent in order for any custody to be granted. 

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