Do Domestic Violence Allegations Affect Property Division?

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common issue in many Texas divorces, and judges in Texas divorce cases may take instances of domestic violence into account when making divorce-related decisions. One such decision is property division. However, before looking into the effect that domestic violence can have on property division in Texas, it is first necessary to review the types of behaviors that constitute domestic violence. 

What Constitutes Domestic Violence? 

Domestic violence allegations during a divorce can make an already stressful process even more trying for those who have been victimized by their spouses. And although domestic violence primarily encompasses physical acts such as punching, slapping, and pushing, there are non-physical forms of abuse that can be just as damaging as those of a physical nature. These types of acts, broadly referred to as forms of domestic abuse, include:

  • Manipulation,
  • Blackmail,
  • Gaslighting,
  • Emotional abuse,
  • Verbal abuse,
  • Psychological abuse, and
  • Financial abuse.

Property Division in Texas 

Even in cases without domestic violence, property division can be a contentious issue. Sometimes the reason for this contention is that Texas courts are not required to divide property equally, they are required to divide it “equitably”, or fairly. Fair is a four letter word in divorce as each party may have a very different opinion of what is fair in any given case. In other words, the property division process in Texas isn’t as simple as giving each spouse half of all community property. Rather, judges in Texas are directed to divide property in a manner that is “just and right.” However, despite specific legal guidelines that are intended to help judges make such decisions, it isn’t uncommon for one spouse to obtain less property than his or her spouse during the property division process, particularly in cases involving domestic violence. 

Domestic Violence and Property Division

As noted above, Texas is a community property state, meaning that the court must use its best judgment to divide assets acquired by both spouses during marriage in a manner that is just and right. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a history of domestic violence or domestic abuse can have an impact on the way judges in Texas determine what is just and right. In other words, when reliable evidence is introduced during the divorce proceedings that one spouse was abusive to the other during the marriage, the abusive party’s portion of community property can be reduced — sometimes significantly. 

Domestic Violence and Spousal Maintenance 

In addition to property division, domestic violence can affect spousal maintenance. In Texas, a person can receive spousal maintenance if his or her spouse was convicted for (or received deferred adjudication for) an act of family violence within two years prior to the date the divorce was initiated. And this isn’t just limited to domestic violence against the spouse seeking maintenance, it also applies to his or her children. In addition, the duration of the marriage has no effect on the court’s ability to award spousal maintenance for an act of family violence.   

Contact Our Denton County Property Division Attorney  

You should never begin the divorce process in Texas without an experienced Denton County divorce attorney on your side. In addition to walking you through your Texas divorce, we will negotiate on your behalf during the property division process, ensuring that you come away with a property division agreement that is reasonable and just. In addition, we can help you with issues like child custody, child support, modifications of existing orders, enforcements, characterization of property, spousal maintenance, temporary restraining orders, and protective orders. If you need a family law attorney in Texas, please contact us today for a consultation.