It is an unfortunate truth that violence in the home is more common than any of us would like. When incidents of violence occur in the home it is less likely that anyone else ever becomes aware of the ongoing abuse and its effect. However, when two people are going through a divorce or a child custody dispute these incidents of abuse can suddenly become made known to the world at large.
Courts in Texas take family violence seriously. The victims of family violence are often those who are least equipped to protect themselves- women and children. As a result, if family violence is a part of your life and you find yourself staring at a legal case involving your family it is crucial to receive solid advice on the matter. The family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to take this opportunity to discuss some issues surrounding family violence as it pertains to divorce and child custody cases.
Big picture consequences for abusers
Family violence can have a lasting effect on child custody or divorce proceedings. If allegations of abuse are substantiated the abuser can have their visitation severely limited by a court. A judge can order the parties to have visitation for the abuser/parent at a supervised visitation facility near where the parties live.
The abuser/parent will be responsible for paying the costs of the visitation session. Overnight visits are out of the question most likely for an extended period of time while the abusive parent begins to rehabilitate themselves with visits that last typically from 2-4 hours. It is possible for the abusive parent to regain the right to have normal visits with their child but that will take time and typically the approval of a judge to move forward.
Custody Determinations during a Divorce
When family violence is involved in a divorce case that is still ongoing, the court will review the situation to determine whether or not either party has a history of family violence. If, for instance, a protective order has been granted within the prior two years then a situation that involves supervised visits and restricted access to the children will most likely be forthcoming.
The law in Texas is such that an abusive parent cannot be named a joint managing conservator of their child. This means that the normal rights and duties associated with being a parent are voided and they will have a decreased level of authority over the decisions made in raising the child. Educational, medical, and psychiatric choices available to joint managing conservators are not available to a parent who is a possessory conservator.
Supervised Visitation Basics
As previously discussed, when a court determines that violence has occurred in the home and that a child is at risk of future harm as a result, supervised visits will most likely occur for the abusive parent. It’s not just violence that can cause a court to render a decision that orders supervised visitation. Emotional abuse, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or a severe mental illness can cause a court to order supervised visitation for a parent.
The actual visits themselves can occur at a facility that specifically hosts visitation sessions for parents who cannot have unsupervised visits with their children. This is a more costly option as these facilities operate by charging people for their services. In Harris County Guardians of Hope and the Safe Program are two choices that courts feel comfortable with hosting supervised visits.
A former client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC found themselves in a situation where his wife was being investigated by CPS and law enforcement for physically harming their children. Our client hired us to file an emergency motion to restrict the mother’s access to the children and to initiate supervised visitations if the court were to deem that appropriate. The motion was granted and instead of having a facility coordinate the supervised visits, our client’s mother hosted.
In order to have a situation where a family member or close friend can host a supervised visitation event, the parties must agree on a person to use and the judge must find that to be in the best interests of the child.
This option is oftentimes more agreeable to the parent who has to have supervised visits. For one, they are able to save a great deal of money by not having to pay to see their kids. In addition to this, having supervised visits in a family member's home or other familiar space can make everyone involved feel more comfortable. Of course, the person that the parties select to administer the supervised visits must first agree to be put in that position. This can be difficult due to the somewhat awkward position a person is put in if they agree to assist with the visits.
What if the abuse has occurred in the distant past?
A judge must determine what is ultimately in the child’s best interests. He or she will do so by considering if the child is in danger of being harmed now or in the future. If that risk is remote then a visitation order can be set up that can allow for normal possession and access to the child. Otherwise, a supervised visitation plan will most likely be implemented.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC- Effective Advocates for Families
If your family has seen incidents of family violence occur do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC for a free of charge consultation. Our attorneys can assist you and your family with managing the sometimes difficult aftermath of violence in the home.
In addition, our experience in representing clients across southeast Texas can be a tremendous help when deciding how to best protect your children and yourself. While finding yourself in a situation involving violence is not easy, remember that you do have options and you can take immediate steps to protect the people most important to you.
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Other Articles you may be interested on regarding Custody
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- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
- Texas Child Custody Modifications
- Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Teens with Children, Child Custody and Child Support in Texas
- Child Custody and Divorce in Spring, TX
- Custody and Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Texas
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child CustodyLawyersright away to protect your rights.
Our child custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.