Dallas Domestic Violence Law Firm
Domestic violence is unfortunately a widespread occurrence throughout many states, including Texas. The issue tends to have a major impact on Texas divorces and it is often noted by separating couples as a primary reason for the dissolution of their marriage. Each Dallas divorce lawyer and staff member at our firm will take steps to ensure that your case is handled efficiently and appropriately, as we are well aware of the sensitive nature of the situation at hand. Once a harmed spouse is safe from further abuse, we can help ensure that the domestic violence and any related issues are addressed during the divorce proceedings.
Michael P. Granata is a family attorney and Dallas domestic violence lawyer who can help with your divorce. Choosing to leave an abusive spouse is a difficult and emotional process. During these trying times, Mr. Granata and his team can take steps to ensure your rights are protected and enforced.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in Texas?
It is first important to remember that domestic violence laws can apply to individuals other than spouses who are currently married. Violence by a person against any of the following people can generally be considered domestic violence:
▪ Current spouses
▪ Former spouses
▪ Parents of the same child
▪ Foster parents and foster children
▪ Family members (marriage-related or blood-related)
Domestic violence can take many form, beyond simply striking a current or former spouse. The following are examples of domestic violence:
▪ Physical abuse
▪ In-person threats of violence
▪ Threatening calls, emails or other communications
▪ Sexual abuse
▪ Trespassing on property of third person to obtain access to spouse
If you have been subjected to any of the above and are considering a divorce, speak with an attorney at a Dallas domestic violence law firm as soon as possible.
What is the Effect of Domestic Violence on Divorce Proceedings?
When domestic abuse is a factor in a divorce, the courts tend to favor the abused spouse. Judges have the ability to provide protection to the abused individual and they generally take all past abuse into account when awarding child custody and settlements. The following are some of the typical ways that a judge may use his or her legal authority to ensure a positive outcome for the abused party:
▪ Restraining Orders and Protective Orders: The court can issue a restraining order against an abusive spouse, forbidding them from harming, threatening or harassing family members. Further, if the court issues a protective order, the abusive spouse will be forbidden from even coming near the family.
▪ Grounds for Divorce: Texas is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning spouses can divorce without providing a specific reason. However, one possible ground for divorce is cruelty by one spouse that makes cohabitation impossible. Domestic abuse almost certainly qualifies as a valid reason for leaving a spouse, and as such, it can be used to strengthen the abused spouse’s case.
▪ Waiting Periods: Texas usually has a divorce waiting period or “cooling off” period of 60 days. This means the divorce cannot be granted until 60 days have passed after the initial petition has been filed. However, the waiting period can be waived if the following has occurred: (1) the non-filing spouse (respondent) has a conviction for domestic abuse against the spouse or anyone in the family or (2) the abused spouse has obtained a restraining order against the respondent. In either case, the divorce can be finalized immediately.
▪ Division of Property: Texas courts will divide community property based on a “just and right” standard. Among the different factors that go into this determination are the grounds for the divorce and the abusive spouse’s felony conviction. Ultimately, harmed individuals may be favored with respect to property division based on those factors.
▪ Spousal Support: Spousal support, which is referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Texas, can be imposed by the court on a spouse. Spousal support is intended to allow one of the spouses (generally the one with less earning power) to maintain their standard of living after the divorce. It is not automatically ordered, but such support is granted under certain circumstances. For example, one reason for a spousal support order is domestic violence that occurred (1) within two years of the divorce filing or (2) while the divorce is pending.
Your Dallas domestic violence lawyer can gather evidence and present your case to ensure the court takes the alleged violence into account during divorce proceedings.
How is Child Custody Affected by Domestic Violence in Texas?
Domestic violence has a major impact on child custody and visitation rights. This is important to note because a divorcing spouse with child custody has the following rights:
▪ Right to decide where the child lives.
▪ Right to make important choices for the child, such as medical and educational decisions.
▪ Right to spend time with the child.
When making custody decisions, the judge is required to consider physical or sexual abuse by one spouse of the other spouse, the child, or the child’s parent. With credible evidence of domestic violence, the abusive spouse will not be granted sole or joint custody of the children.
A Dallas domestic violence law firm can take steps to ensure that the court makes a custody decision that accounts for any domestic violence in the household.
How Can a Dallas Domestic Violence Lawyer Help?
A Dallas domestic violence attorney can take the following steps on your behalf:
▪ Legal Protection from the Abusive Spouse: Your attorney can assist with obtaining a restraining order or protective order against your abusive spouse.
▪ Initial Filing for Divorce: Your attorney can file the divorce petition and all related paperwork, to include noting the spousal abuse as grounds for divorce when appropriate.
▪ Notify Spouse of the Divorce Filing: Abused spouses are most at risk when they try to leave the relationship. This means the abusive spouse is especially dangerous when they have been notified of the divorce filing. Your divorce attorney can take care of this notification for you so that you can preserve your safety.
▪ Be Your Advocate in the Divorce: Your lawyer can work to obtain the most beneficial result possible as you leave the abusive relationship.
Contact a Dallas Domestic Violence Law Firm Today
If you plan to divorce your abusive spouse, Dallas domestic violence lawyer Michael P. Granata can work to ensure that your health, safety and legal rights are protected. Call our office at 214-977-9050 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
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