In our last post, entitled, “Fighting The Legal Way Against An Abusive Spouse – Part 1”, we covered the importance of planning ahead and getting a lawyer who specializes in family law Dallas TX who is also familiar with domestic abuse situations. Now, we’ll cover what you need to know about child custody in these situations and how the legal process looks different when abuse is a factor.
Negotiations Have To Be Different
The presence of abuse in a relationship requires a shift in the usual approach to settling a divorce and custody agreement. Normally, mediation is the first step after you declare your intention to divorce your spouse. If there’s domestic abuse involved though, this may not be appropriate. There is flexibility around mandatory negotiations when domestic violence is a factor. The court will also offer you the option of a protective order under Title 4 of Texas Family Code. Don’t underestimate the importance of your safety, spouses who file a restraining or protective order are most vulnerable to retaliation from an angry spouse who doesn’t want to “let a piece of paper tell them what to do”.
Thinking Through Custody
As you plan for life with the kids after your divorce, you need to be realistic about the implications of joint custody. Joint custody, or conservatorship as it’s called in Texas, means you and your ex would be involved in continual discussions around the kid’s needs and best interests. Joint custody opens the door for your spouse to have continued contact with you, and that may not be a safe option.
Manipulation Is The Abuser’s Technique
Your ex may use custody and visitation rights with the kids as a way to keep a watch over you and control you from afar. You must let the court know abuse is involved. In most situations, a judge will want to at least grant some visitation rights to the other parent, but when domestic violence is a factor, this decision will change. Sometimes a judge will rule for supervised visitation so that your spouse can still play a role in the children’s lives but keep things safer for everyone.
Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
Going through a divorce and child custody case is hard to anyone. Everything familiar is changing and you’ll feel like there are a lot of unknowns. That said, when abuse is a factor, there’s extra pressure and strain on you and often times on the kids if they are aware of what’s been going on. Don’t feel bad about changing things, the kids will adapt and be happier and safer. Getting help from a counselor or support group will help you be prepared for the hard days and plan for a brighter future. Get some free legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in family law Dallas, TX. Call Woods, May & Matlock to set up your risk-free appointment today at 972-387-9955.