How Domestic Violence May Affect Child Custody Determinations
An allegation of domestic abuse has the potential to have the greatest impact on child custody and visitation rulings. In Texas, the family court must, by law, consider all domestic violence concerns before awarding child custody (now known as “managing conservatorship” in Texas). If you have been charged with domestic violence, the court has the authority to deny custody, and to place significant limits on your right to access or possession of your minor child. The court will carefully review the allegations to ensure that they have merit, and will not curtail custody or visitation if the evidence indicates that the allegations have been made in an attempt to punish an ex-spouse, or to curry favor in a custody or visitation hearing.
As in other states, the courts in Texas always seek to give priority to what is determined to be in the best interests of the minor children. The factors evaluated by the court in making this decision may include documented history of spousal or child abuse, as well as other concerns, such as:
The respective stability of each household
The mental health of each parent
Any personal behaviors of each parent that may negatively affect the child (substance abuse, gambling, sexual promiscuity)
In Texas, the courts follow a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of a child to grant custody to a parent who has committed domestic violence. This presumption will be enforced, even if you negotiated or mediated a joint custody agreement, if the court determines that the history or threat of domestic violence influenced a parent’s decision to enter into such an agreement.