Does a Domestic Violence Charge Affect My Joint Custody Order?
In Texas, committing an act of violence or assault against a member of one’s family or household is a serious offense, and carries criminal consequences. In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction, there may also be civil consequences. If you and your spouse are separated and a joint child custody order has been issued, a domestic violence charge could have an effect on this order and on your right to see your child. Here’s a look into what you need to know:
How Courts Make Decisions About Child Custody
While courts in Texas certainly favor both parents having a presence in a child’s life and spending time with a child, courts most heavily prioritize the best interests of a child. In determining the child’s best interests, any actions that are indicative of parental “unfitness” are considered. There is no doubt that a domestic violence charge, and certainly a domestic violence conviction, can reduce a court’s opinion of a parent, and lead to the opinion that the child spending time with that parent is not within the child’s best interest, or perhaps even dangerous.
What Might Happen if You are Charged with Domestic Violence
If you are charged with domestic violence, your ex-spouse may petition the court for a modification of your child custody agreement based on a significant change in circumstances. If you are found guilty of the domestic violence charge, consequences, in regards to custody of your child, might include:
- Requirement of supervised visitation;
- Withdrawal of visitation/custodial privileges;
- Termination of parental rights in the most severe of cases; or
- Requirement to participate in a treatment program.
The custody consequences that you face will likely be dependent upon whether or not you are convicted on a domestic violence charge; the severity of the charges (a domestic violence charge can range from a misdemeanor to a felony offense); and the court’s opinion regarding whether or not the child’s physical or emotional health will suffer as a result of spending time with you or not spending time with you. If you wish to maintain custody rights with your child, you will need to present convincing evidence that this would be within your child’s best interest and that your child would not be endangered by time with you.
You Need an Experienced Attorney on Your Side
Being charged with domestic violence is something to be taken seriously, and the threat of losing custody privileges with your child is a risk that demands legal representation. At the law offices of Scott M. Brown & Associates, we have criminal defense and family law attorneys as part of our legal team. When you hire us, we will do everything it takes to defend you against charges and protect your right to custody with your child.
If you are facing criminal charges–domestic violence or otherwise–that threaten your right to see your child, contact our law firm immediately. We have the resources and work ethic your case deserves. You can schedule a consultation with our law firm by calling us directly, or by sending us a message using the intake form on our website.