Unfortunately, the sad reality is that for many individuals, the reason they get divorced is because of domestic abuse. According to studies from the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equals approximately 10 million people per year.
To protect victims and survivors of abuse, Texas has enacted laws addressing domestic violence and how it affects the court’s decision in divorce cases. This guide will go over what to expect if you are going through a divorce involving domestic violence.
Filing For Divorce in Texas
Texas recognizes no-fault divorces, which means that neither spouse is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. However, Texas does allow for a spouse to file for divorce under fault-based reasons as well. One of the grounds for divorce in Texas is called “family violence.”
The law states that family violence is, “An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.”
This means the court’s intent is to protect the spouse from enduring further abuse by their spouse, and the divorce process will change because of it.
Family Violence Accusations and the Impact on the Divorce Process
Family violence accusations can impact the way a divorce case is handled significantly.
First, you have the option of petitioning the court for a protective order, also more commonly known as a restraining order. It can affect several matters like where the alleged abuser is allowed to live and how often they can visit their children.
The court takes custody matters very seriously, and will base its decision on what is in the best interests of the child. The court’s number one priority is to ensure the child’s health, safety, and welfare. If one party is abusive, custody could be denied to them because it would not be in the child’s best interests. Child Protective Services (CPS) may also be involved if the abuse puts your child in danger.
In cases where family violence allegations are present, the judge will not allow the use of mediation in order for the couple to resolve their divorce matters. The reason for this is because the results of mediation could be unfair since one party may have more leverage than the other during the negotiations.
60 Day Waiting Period
In Texas, a divorce takes, at a minimum, 60 days to be finalized. In family violence divorce cases, this time period may be waived if the judge determines it is in the victim’s best interests.
Property Division and Alimony
Texas is a community property state, but the courts have the jurisdiction to divide property in a way that is “just and right.” For example, in cases of family violence, the court can decide what the victim needs to move out of the family home and into a safer situation where they can re-establish themselves. The court would likely order the victim to be allocated more property in order to facilitate this change.
The same is for awarding alimony, which is also known as spousal support. If the spouse is convicted of committing family violence, they are then at fault for the divorce. This means the court can decide to order them to pay the victim more in spousal support in order to help them adjust to life after the divorce.
You Are Not Alone
Remember, you are never alone during these difficult times, and there are many resources out there to help you. Whether you need help getting a divorce from an abusive partner or assistance with obtaining a protective order, The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC is dedicated to protecting you. Our compassionate attorneys have the legal experience you need to get you through these uncertain times.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic abuse, our domestic violence attorneys are here to help you file for a protective order. Please don’t hesitate to call our team today at (210) 775-2000 for more information.