Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

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Ending a marriage can be difficult enough in itself. But if you are seeking a Texas divorce due to family violence the stakes can be considerably higher. In these situations, you are concerned about more than just getting a fair divorce; you also are concerned about your physical safety. The good news is that the law is on your side, and you do have options. So here are some key things to know about a Texas divorce due to family violence. 

What is Family Violence?

Parents never fight alone; children see what is happening.

In a marriage involving family violence, it is not unusual for the abusive spouse to maintain that you are not being abused. The person may insist that you are exaggerating, or that the abuse is a normal part of a marriage.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an excellent resource for information on abusive relationships. They define domestic violence as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Here are just a few examples of domestic abuse:

  • Hitting you, grabbing you, or destroying your belongings 
  • Making threats, including by phone, email, or other means
  • Intimidating you with weapons
  • Pressuring you to do sexual acts you do not want to do
  • Trying to isolate you from other people
  • Threatening to hurt or take away the children or your pets

The key thing to remember is that no one deserves to be treated this way. Family violence is always wrong, period. 

What to Do Before You File for a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

The first step must be to stop abuse in whatever form that may take.

In a “typical” divorce, you tell your spouse you want a divorce. Then you hire a family law attorney and file a petition for divorce. The legal process begins, and eventually, you get divorced. 

In a divorce involving domestic violence, everything changes. Experts will tell you: The most dangerous time in an abusive marriage is when you are leaving it. Therefore, your first step must be to make a plan to leave the marriage safely. This includes not only you but your children, your pets—anyone who you think may be put in danger by your decision. 

If you do talk with a divorce lawyer, be sure to tell that person right away that you are in a marriage involving family violence. The attorney can advise you on steps you can immediately to minimize the risk to you and your family. After all, you cannot discount the possibility that your spouse knows you are at the lawyer’s office. 

Filing for a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

In Texas, you don’t need a “good reason” to get divorced. You can simply maintain that the marriage is no longer supportable, and the court will usually grant your request. This is why Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state. 

However, if you are divorcing your spouse due to domestic abuse, it is not a no-fault divorce. You will need to provide evidence of the violence. This can include police reports, medical records, or photographs. If other people observed the abuse, they may be able to serve as witnesses. A trusted attorney can help you in identifying and gathering this information. 

TIP: If you are considering getting a Texas divorce due to family violence, try to keep a log documenting the abuse. This will help your case in court. However, be sure to keep the log secret from your spouse

Your Spouse Will Be Notified that You Are Filing for Divorce

A Texas divorce begins with filing a divorce petition. Once your attorney has filed the petition, your spouse will be “served papers.” This means your spouse will receive a copy of the divorce petition, along with any other documents you have filed. 

If you are requesting divorce due to family violence, the documents will state this. This is another reason why you want to be in a safe place before you file for divorce. As we have said, leaving an abuser can be very dangerous. Do not underestimate how your spouse may react to news of the divorce. 

In a Divorce Involving Family Violence, You Can Get a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order

Divorce for domestic violence

If you have reason to be concerned for your safety, you can request a Protective Order or Temporary Restraining Order. A protective order states that your spouse stops abusive behavior. This can include harassment, stalking, and making threats. The order also can protect your family members or others living in your household. 

A restraining order states that one individual cannot make contact with another, and may include specific actions that are prohibited. A temporary restraining order lasts for 14 days or until your temporary orders hearing, whichever comes first.

One big difference is that police do not have the authority to enforce a restraining order. However, they can enforce a protective order. If your spouse has been arrested for domestic violence, you may be able to request an Emergency Protective Order, which goes into effect immediately. 

How Long Does it Take to Get a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence?

Texas law requires that couples wait 60 days before the divorce is finalized. This is considered a “cooling off” period, so that the spouses can make sure they want to go through with ending the marriage. 

However, the law provides an exception for a divorce involving domestic abuse. Your attorney can file a motion asking the judge to waive this 60-day waiting period due to family violence. This option has restrictions. In order to be eligible for an expedited (quick) divorce, your spouse must have been convicted of a charge due to family violence. 

How Does a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence Affect Child Custody?

Child visitation and custody will always be impacted if domestic violence has been proven in court.

A divorce due to domestic abuse can have a big impact on the court’s rulings on child custody. This is another reason why you want to be sure to share this information with your divorce lawyer. 

In Texas, judges make custody decisions based on what they think is in the best interests of the children. In a case involving domestic violence, the judge is likely to allow your spouse to have only supervised visits with the kids

However, if the violence has recently occurred, your spouse may not even be allowed this opportunity. He or she may have to wait an extended time before being allowed to see the children. 

If You are Divorcing Someone Who Has Been Abusive, We Strongly Encourage You to Hire an Attorney

Sean Lynch are ready to believe you and will fight to protect your family for a brighter tomorrow.

You probably already knew that you do not have to hire an attorney to get a divorce. In some situations, you can save some money but after seeing the problems that don’t get resolved in DIY divorces we cannot recommend that path.

In a case involving family violence, DIY is not a good choice. For one, as we have seen, these cases can be complicated and drag out longer than necessary. It can be very helpful to have an experienced family law attorney on your side—especially if you think you may need an immediate protective order.

Another benefit is that there is strength in numbers. If you are leaving someone who has been abusive, you want as many people on your side as possible. This can include your family, your friends, law enforcement, and a skilled attorney. 

But perhaps the biggest benefit of hiring a family law attorney is that he or she can act as a buffer. Your lawyer will be the one communicating with your spouse about the divorce. If he or she hires a lawyer as well, then the two of them will work together directly on your case. And it’s possible that you will never have to speak or interact with your abusive spouse throughout the process. It is very hard to put a value on having this peace of mind.  

In a Divorce Due to Family Violence, Hire an Experienced Fort Worth Law

If you are divorcing someone who has been abusive, you already have a lot on your mind. Let the award-winning Fort Worth family law attorneys at Sean Lynch law firm help you prepare your case. We have years of legal experience in Texas family law, serving clients throughout the Fort Worth area and dealing with cases involving domestic violence. For a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact us today or call 817-668-5879. 

RESOURCES 

Tarrant County Domestic Violence Hotline: 877-701-7233 (SAFE)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Overview of domestic violence and abuse
Link to Tarrant County information on Protective Orders (tarrantcounty.com), 817-884-1623
SafeHaven website: SafeHaventc.org.

Remember: When you are getting a divorce due to family violence, never underestimate what your spouse may do. 

Divorce For Domestic Violence

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Divorce for domestic violence involves complicated police and legal issues. Man clenching his fist over a woman sitting at a table.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, the law and Texas courts can protect you in a divorce.

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.

Protective Orders

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 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.