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Texas Family Law: How can Abuse Affect Child Custody?

When a marriage fails and eventually leads to divorce, one important question arises: who will take custody of the child? At times, guardianship, or conservatorship as used in Texas family law, is a longer and more emotional process than divorce. It already involves the children; And most often, this brings problems to the whole being of the child. 

In Texas, according to, there are two kinds of conservatorship; the joint managing conservatorship and the sole managing conservatorship.

The first one is where both parents are still given the full rights to take care of their child. The last one is where only one parent is given the right of conservatorship.

Why does the court decide to grant the sole custody to one parent?

There are as much reasons as you can think but it can be summarized it in four main reasons.

The first one is when one of the parents has been involved in violence or has neglected the child in the past. Second, being associated with different vices such as drugs and alcohol or having criminal history can eliminate the granting of child custody. Third, absence in bringing up the child or abandonment can also be one of the grounds for not allowing guardianship. And lastly, child custody is affected when parents have differences in their beliefs on certain matters when these differences lead into a clash.

Four separate reasons but one thing is common, and it is abuse.

Violence, criminal involvement, abandonment, and conflict of beliefs between parents cause the child to have a messed up environment.

In reference to Texas law, domestic violence happens when a member of a family causes harm, assault, or injury, which may include physical, mental, or emotional abuse, to another member of the same family.

The Texas family court delivers protective orders to victims of abuses in child custody cases.

Texas law prohibits the court to decide to favor on joint conservatorship when there has been a history of violence in the family. This leads us to the question, if there are protective orders, does the parent who has been abusive loses his or her rights to the child?

As per the provisions of Texas family law, the abusive parent may still have custody and visitation rights to the child only if the court determines that the child’s physical and mental health would not be endangered and it would be for the best interest of the child.

Visitation may also be allowed if there are orders which will protect the child or that the visitation will be supervised where the abusive parent must be accompanied by a third party with the child.

In extreme cases, the family court of Texas may decide to terminate the parental rights of the abusive parent. This happens when the child suffered from serious injuries or sexual assault.

Texas family law provides remedies for those parents who had history of abuses in the family. As long as the courts make careful decisions in these cases and protective orders are properly managed, visitation rights can be flexible. Above this all, the best interests of the child should be prioritized.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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