Every year, more than 80,000 Texans are victims of domestic violence and this includes both men and women. If your abuser is your spouse, you should strongly consider divorce for domestic violence and leave your abuser.
Divorcing an abusive partner can be a stressful process, but the law is on your side. In these cases, Texas courts protect you. Remember, Texas is a no-fault state, so one party can file for a split without having to give a specific reason for doing so. However, if you or your children have been hurt, you will have extra leverage in the case. Oftentimes, judges favor victims when ruling on settlements and child custody. First, you’ll need to prove that you were a victim of abuse.
Evidence that proves domestic violence can include medical records, police reports, and text message information. A lawyer who specializes in Texas divorce issues can help to gather this information and strengthen your legal case. You can file a domestic violence case after a divorce.
Physical harm is not the only form of domestic violence. It can also involve sexual, financial, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse.
Here are some of the important considerations when you divorce for domestic violence in Texas. Domestic violence can affect your divorce case.
Telling Your Abusive Spouse that You Want a Divorce
Breaking the news to your spouse that you want a divorce for domestic violence can be scary and sometimes even life-threatening. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they try to leave. The abuser usually attempts to retain power and control and often takes extreme measures.
During this exit time, the risk is high, as violence tends to escalate quickly. Fear of repercussions often stops people from leaving their partner. This keeps them trapped in the marriage and wondering if they should stay or leave. Many people also lack an understanding of the legal recourse they can get.
Texas lawyers understand the fear involved in divorce for victims of domestic violence cases. To make things easier and safer, your attorney can notify your abusive spouse for you when you want to end the marriage. That way, you can be in a safe place. This is often the first step to take in protecting yourself. If you need to file a police report with law enforcement officers, an attorney can help with these issues.
Additionally, victims of domestic violence can benefit from expedited court proceedings. Typically, after a petition for divorce has been filed, there is a waiting period of 60 days. However, if it is a case of divorce for domestic violence, a judge can waive this waiting period. Your attorney will advise you on how to apply for this benefit.
Victims of abuse can also request a temporary restraining order or protective order in the time before the court hearing takes place. This will make sure that your spouse cannot come near you and threaten physical harm to your safety.
The protective order is one option that can make your spouse stay away from you, your family, your workplace, your home, and your children’s school or daycare. In some cases the order may also ask your spouse to move out of the home or order them not to carry a gun even if they have a license. It can also order your spouse to pay for medical support and child support while setting conditions for visitation with the children.
The court may grant your request if you can provide evidence of family violence that is putting you in danger and is not in the best interests of your child. You can request a protective order if there is a clear risk of family violence where your spouse has tried to harm you or made you afraid that serious physical harm is going to happen to you.
Child Custody Proceeding and Domestic Violence
Another major consideration in divorce for domestic violence are the kids. Abuse against a spouse or another family member will impact the outcome of rulings for child custody and visitation.
If there is credible evidence that there has been physical violence or sexual abuse or neglect by a parent, that person will not be awarded custody. This will ensure the safety of the child. The abusive parent may also be liable for child support. While Texas family law does not preclude the abusive parent from getting joint custody of the children, it will be difficult for the parent to prove they can provide a safe environment for the children. You will most likely gain sole physical and legal custody of your children. In some cases the judge may even remove the other parent’s right to the child.
That being said, if the abuse took place more than two years before filing the Texas divorce, access to a child may be granted even if the court does not grant custody to your ex-spouse. However, this is usually only in cases when it is in the child’s best interest. The judge may determine that visitation by the other parent is critical for the well-being of the child and require supervised visitations.
Property Division and Domestic Violence
Texas is one of the 9 states that follow community property principles. In many cases of property division, the court will start from the presumption that assets will be split evenly (50/50) unless there are reasons for a more uneven split depending on what is “just and right”. Marital assets like bank accounts, retirements, and real estate will be divided between spouses after the end of a marriage. The court will also split debts like mortgage loans or car loans between a couple in many cases.
If you have been denied the opportunity to work or gain an education because of family violence and oppression from your ex-spouse, the state judge may order that you get more assets or increased support from your ex-spouse to make up for these lost opportunities.
A judge may order that you get spousal maintenance if you will not have enough property and money to meet your reasonable needs. Your spouse must also be convicted of or have received deferred adjudication of a family violence criminal offense within two years before the suit.
Keep Your Family Safe After Divorce for Domestic Abuse Violence
After the divorce from an abusive partner is final, the battle against domestic abuse could still continue. Therefore, most attorneys recommend that you file a restraining order. This is a protective measure to ensure your safety from violence and the wellbeing of your family members. It is within your right to get out of a dangerous situation.
Restraining court orders can prevent abusers from contacting you or your children and they must comply or face penalties. They also provide limitations on how close your ex is allowed to get to you. If the abuser violates these regulations it is considered a criminal offense.
Don’t face your abuser alone. Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law and are experienced in domestic violence issues. We offer a no-cost 30-minute case review. Share this information if you know someone who could use our legal help. Contact us today.