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Conservatorship in situations involving domestic violence

In typical child custody cases, many experts agree that it is best when both parents have an active and significant role in their children's lives. Achieving this may require parents in Austin to set aside their differences and work hard to get along for the sake of their children, even in the midst of a divorce or other difficult breakup.

However, there are some situations, such as when one parent has perpetrated domestic violence against either the child or the other parent, in which the best interests of the child might not be best served by having both parents involved in the child's life. Indeed, the physical and emotional safety of the victims is paramount.

This is why under Texas law, courts may not ordinarily award a managing conservatorship to a parent who has a documented history of domestic violence or neglect against either his or her own children or his or her spouse. This is particularly true in situations in which the violence was recent, that is, two years prior to the start of the child custody case.

Likewise, a parent with a recent history of domestic violence may have visitation rights restricted and is unlikely to be appointed a possessory conservator, that is, the primary physical custodian of the children. There are exceptions to these rules. For instance, a parent who has been accused of domestic violence will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he or she will not pose a danger to the child. Moreover, a court cannot act on a domestic violence allegation unless it is convinced that it is more likely than not that the accusation is true. While this standard serves to prevent false allegations, it is a lower standard of proof than what is required for a criminal conviction.

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