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How does a history of violence impact child custody proceedings? P.2

Previously, we began discussing the impact domestic violence, sexual abuse and violent crime can have in child custody proceedings. As we noted, such matters are very important to family courts in determining the best interests of the child. Judges are, under Texas law, barred from appointing joint managing conservators when there is credible evidence of child neglect, or of physical or sexual abuse against the other parent, a spouse or a child.

Texas courts presume that it is not in the best interests of a child for a court to grant sole managing conservatorship, also known as legal custody, to a parent who has a past or present pattern of child neglect, or physical or sexual abuse of the other parent, a spouse or a child. This presumption can be rebutted, though, with sufficient evidence. Courts also consider whether there is a history of family violence or sexual abuse in determining whether to limit possessory conservatorship, also known as physical custody.

Texas lists a number of circumstances under which courts may not allow a parent to have access to a child. These include circumstances where there is a history of domestic violence in the two years preceding the filing of the lawsuit, as well as circumstances where the parent has engaged in certain offenses under the Penal Code. That being said, courts may still allow access to the child in such circumstances when it is deemed that doing so would not pose a risk to the child’s physical health or emotional welfare and it would be in the child’s best interests. Courts may in these cases craft a possession order involving specific protections to the safety and welfare of the child and others who have been victimized by the parent.

In our next post, we’ll pick back up on this topic and look at the importance of working with an experienced attorney in child custody proceedings, particularly for parents who have been accused of violence or abuse. 

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