A domestic violence conviction in Texas can raise many questions for those convicted, the most common one being about child custody. In custody battles, domestic violence is always a factor when considering primary custody and visitation. And depending on the severity and circumstances, a conviction has a possibility to greatly affect the outcome.
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Below, we discuss how a domestic violence conviction in Texas affects child custody.
Domestic Violence Conviction in Texas
The state of Texas defines domestic violence as an act by a family member that causes or intends to cause immediate physical harm or assault on a family member. Mental abuse, including threats, is also considered domestic violence.
Just one episode of domestic violence establishes a “history” of violence and can drastically impact the results of a custody battle. Ongoing domestic violence may even be addressed with a protective order, making visitation or any custody rights extremely difficult for the convicted.
Texas Child Custody Laws
It is the duty of the judge to determine which custody arrangements will be best for the child. In Texas, determining child custody includes deciding the parents’ rights with regard to “conservatorship” and “possession/access.”
When one parent is awarded Sole Managing Conservatorship, that parent has the legal authority to make all decisions relating to the child, including educational, medical and religious decisions. If the parents share in these rights and responsibilities, it is called Joint Conservatorship.
Possession and access custody define which parent lives with the child and the frequency of visits from the other parent.
How Domestic Violence Conviction in Texas Affects Child Custody
Under Texas law, the court is prohibited from granting a joint conservatorship if domestic violence exists between the parents or a child. Custody of a child is also denied if one of the parents has a history of family or sexual violence in the previous two years.
There are a few factors the court uses to determine whether or not a parent may have full or partial custody of a child. These factors include:
- The impact of the child’s emotional and physical health by the custody;
- Whether visitation from a parent with a domestic violence conviction would be best for the child;
- How custody arrangements would protect the child; and
- Whether or not visitation should be supervised.
Supervised visitation means that a parent can only spend time with his or her child without another adult present. This type of visitation may be awarded in a custody case that involves domestic violence accusations if the court determines it is not in the child’s best interest to be alone with that parent.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence in Houston
Assaulting a close relative at least twice qualifies as felony continuous family violence in Texas. However, there are a few factors to consider:
•It is not necessary to have assaulted the same person twice.
•A previous conviction may not expire.
•It is not necessary to have been convicted of the previous charge.
The answer can depend on several factors, such as:
• Whether or not the defendant has a criminal history
• The details of the alleged act, like what exactly happened, and whether or not there was a weapon involved.
• The existence of injuries, which can point to deeper problems in the household. An injured victim will generally take dropping the case off the table.
Those subject to a Family Violence Protective Order will lose their right to possess a firearm in Texas. To regain your gun rights, you must have your conviction expunged or set aside, be pardoned, or gain your civil rights back.
Parental Rights and Visitation
Depending on the severity and frequency of domestic violence, visitation is often an option for parents who are unable to secure full custody. However, sometimes a complete termination of parental rights can stem from a domestic violence conviction. In these situations, a domestic violence attorney can help.
Houston assault attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss Attorney at Law has nearly 20 years of experience in defending against domestic violence charges in criminal court. We fight to protect our clients’ rights and fight aggressively for the best possible outcome in every case.
If you or a loved one has a domestic violence charge in Texas and fear the impacts it may have on child custody, call (713) 449-9922 to schedule a free, private consultation.