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Domestic violence can have a significant impact on children. It is no wonder then that domestic violence can also have significant impacts on child custody determinations. After all, the best interest of the child standard is the guiding star in these types of court decisions. A family law judge will make custody determinations based on what best serves the physical and emotional needs of the child. Let’s take a closer look at how domestic violence can impact child custody determinations.

How Can Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody Determinations?

Texas law defines domestic violence, also referred to as “family violence,” as when a family member causes or intends to cause physical harm or fear of immediate harm to another family member. As such, domestic violence can include actual physical violence or mental abuse. If a parent has been the perpetrator of domestic violence, they may end up with limited visitation rights in a child custody determination. In extreme cases, they may even end up with their parental rights being terminated.

If a parent has a history or pattern of perpetrating physical or sexual abuse against the other parent, a spouse, or a child, Texas law prohibits courts from making the parents joint conservators. Furthermore, a parent will not be allowed possession of a child if the parent has a history of domestic violence over the two years preceding the child custody determination or if the parent has abused the child in the past.

So, domestic violence can impact a parent’s ability to have sole or joint custody of the child. The parent with the history of perpetrating domestic violence, however, may still have some custody rights and access to their child. In order to be awarded any custody and visitation rights, however, the court must determine that:

  • The physical and emotional health of the child would not be endangered by that parent’s access or visitation;
  • It would be in the child’s best interests for that parent to have access or visitation rights;
  • There is a visitation order designed to protect the child in place;
  • The parent may be restricted to having only supervised visitation rights; and
  • The parent may be required to complete a treatment program prior to being granted access and visitation to the child.

Supervised visitation rights may be granted to an abusive parent. This means that the abusive parent is not to be alone with the child and a designated adult must be present for all visits. Texas courts operate under the assumption that it is not in the child’s best interest to have unsupervised visits with an abusive parent. It is the abusive parent’s burden to prove to the court that the child would be safe in their care and there would not be a likelihood of abuse perpetrated.

Family Law Attorneys

For all of the legal decisions that have big impacts on your family, Navarrete & Schwartz is here for you. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.