A conviction for domestic violence can have serious repercussions on many aspects of your life. This is especially true with respect to family law matters. Child custody, spousal support, and property division may be affected. If you are facing allegations of domestic abuse, or you are a survivor of it, you need to understand how it can affect the outcome of your family law case.
Although Mr. Youngberg is not a criminal defense attorney, he understands the role domestic violence may play in your family law case. He can work with your criminal attorney to build an effective strategy that will protect your rights as well as your safety and that of your children.
Understanding Domestic Violence
The most obvious forms of domestic violence are physical harm, bodily injury, and sexual abuse. People who are facing these degrees of domestic violence need immediate assistance from law enforcement to protect the victims’ safety. Our office can provide you with the resources you need. On the other hand, if you are falsely accused of these forms of domestic violence, having an attorney is critical to not only your freedom but how a judge may view any pending family law matters. Mr. Youngberg does not practice criminal defense work, but knows many practitioners in this field and can help you secure legal representation.
Not all domestic violence is physical or sexual, however. It may also take the form of emotional abuse, verbal threats, harassment, and psychological manipulation. Domestic abusers often use calculated tactics to control their victims and keep them trapped in unhealthy relationships. Domestic violence also includes actions which place a victim in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
Texas domestic violence laws are intended to protect all members of a family or household, including:
- Current or former spouses
- Domestic partners
- Couples who have a dating or romantic relationship
- Brothers and sisters
- Step-brothers and step-sisters
- Grandparents and grandchildren
- Foster children
How May Domestic Violence Affect My Divorce?
In Texas, you are required to wait at least 60 days after filing a petition before your divorce is granted. However, domestic violence can expedite this timeline. For your safety, the judge may waive the 60-day waiting period and grant you a divorce sooner. Concurrent with this, the judge may issue a temporary restraining order against the abuser.
How Will It Affect My Child Custody Case?
A temporary restraining order can be used to keep an abusive spouse from contacting the victimized spouse. But it can also keep a parent from contacting his or her child if a judge believes the circumstances warrant it. Judges, aware of the very real dangers posed by domestic violence, are likely to err on the side of caution in rendering these decisions.
The impact of domestic violence on a parent’s relationship with his or her child does not end with temporary restraining orders. Judges in custody cases must also make long-term decisions about how the parents will share time with the child. The default rule in custody cases is to order joint conservatorship (a term loosely equivalent to custody). However, the court may deny joint conservatorship if either parent has a history or pattern of domestic violence. The court must consider evidence of domestic abuse or violence in custody matters.
Unfortunately, many parents make false or exaggerated claims of domestic violence in order to gain an advantage in custody matters. In some cases, a court may determine that domestic violence has occurred but still rule that the abusive parent should have visitation rights. If you are a parent faced with baseless accusations of abuse or are concerned about how they may impact visitation, you need aggressive legal defense to ensure that your rights are protected.
How Does It Affect Spousal Support Obligations?
To receive alimony (spousal support) in most Texas cases, a spouse must have been married for at least 10 years. However, a spouse may also receive support if there was domestic violence in the two years prior to filing. This also applies to cases in which a spouse received a deferred adjudication of domestic violence. A spouse still must prove that he or she needs support, and that requires examination of the spouse’s financial resources and investigation of his/her needs.
How Does It Affect Property Division?
Texas is a community property state, which means that most property acquired during marriage is owned jointly by both spouses. A court must divide this property upon divorce, but the division will not necessarily be 50/50. Instead, the judge must determine what is “just and right” in rendering its decision.
Domestic violence will likely influence what the judge determines to be just and right. For example, in many domestic violence cases, the abused spouse must relocate and find a new job. This is a factor that will probably affect the outcome of the property division.
How Youngberg Law Firm Can Help
At Youngberg Law Firm, we take domestic violence accusations seriously. Victims deserve to have their voices heard when courts are making decisions about divorce, custody, and related matters. But they also need to understand, for instance, that an abusive spouse may still be allowed visitation. And an abusive spouse may not be ordered to pay spousal support if the circumstances don’t warrant it. We help victims to know their rights and anticipate what the other spouse could argue.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence, your rights may be in jeopardy. Domestic violence touches on every aspect of family law, including property division. Our firm will investigate the claims against you and fight for your rights in court.
You have too much to lose in your family law case when domestic violence is involved. Contact Youngberg Law Firm today for a consultation and let us go to work for you.