Skip to Main Content

How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody in Texas

Whether you have been accused of domestic violence in Texas or you believe your ex has engaged in acts of domestic violence, it is important to understand how domestic violence allegations or a conviction ultimately can affect your child custody case or could result in a modification to an existing child custody arrangement. The Texas Family Code explicitly states that it is Texas public policy to “assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child,” yet it is also state public policy to “provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child.”

In order to understand how domestic violence can affect child custody in Texas, it is critical to know that Texas law does not use the term “child custody” to refer to parental rights and responsibilities. Rather, Texas uses the terms “conservatorship” and “possession” to describe parental rights and responsibilities for which many other states use “child custody.” Our League City and Galveston domestic violence lawyers can provide you with more information about the impact of domestic violence on conservatorship and possession cases in Texas.

History of Domestic Violence Impacts the Court’s Decision to Appoint a Sole or Joint Managing Conservator

When Texas courts decide child custody, they can appoint one parent as a sole conservator, or they can appoint both parents as joint managing conservators. In many circumstances, when one parent is appointed as sole conservator, the other parent will have possession. A history of domestic violence or sexual abuse can affect a parent’s ability to be appointed as a conservator and, in some cases, to have possession.

According to the Texas Family Code: “In determining whether to appoint a party as a sole or joint managing conservator, 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 committed within a two-year period preceding the filing of the suit or during the pendency of the suit.”

The Texas Family Code makes clear that the court “may not appoint joint managing conservators if credible evidence is presented of a history or pattern of past or present child neglect, or physical or sexual abuse by one parent directed against the other parent, a spouse, or a child.”

Domestic Violence Can Result in Possession Restrictions

In addition to limitations on the ability for a person to serve as a joint managing conservator when there is a history of domestic violence, the Texas Family Code also allows the court to limit possession of the child. Indeed, the statute says that the court “may not allow a parent to have access to a child for whom it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence” if there is a history of that person committing family violence within the last two years.

Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney Serving Clients in Galveston and League City

Do you have questions about child custody and domestic violence in Texas? An experienced League City and Galveston domestic violence lawyer can discuss your circumstances with you today, and we can provide you with more information to answer your questions and address your concerns. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates for more information.