Scenarios involving domestic violence are often incredibly dangerous for women, particularly mothers. People recognize that domestic violence can impact family law matters, such as who secures custody of a couple’s children.
In general, people expect that those convicted of a domestic violence offense will lose custody of their children or at least have diminished parenting time because of their violent conduct. What fewer people realize is that the victims of domestic violence may also find their custody rights at risk.
Texas law puts pressure on victims
Once someone has a child, they have an obligation to act in the interest of that child even if what their child needs might be contrary to their desires. In scenarios involving domestic violence, Texas imposes a statutory obligation on parents to address the situation. The state can prosecute a parent for physically harming a child and also for causing mental damage, both through direct actions and omissions.
When the state prosecutes women for failing to leave an abuser, it is often that “omission” which seemingly justifies the charges. Both scenarios where children witness domestic violence and where they are secondary targets by an abuser could result in a parent losing their custody rights. Texas prosecutors can charge someone with a failure to protect charge even though they are also a victim of domestic violence. A guilty plea or conviction could then impact a mother’s custody rights accordingly.
Women hoping to leave a violent scenario may need to plan ahead to protect themselves and learn more about state law so that they can more effectively protect their children. Reporting domestic violence, seeking a protective order and removing the children from a volatile situation are all steps that could help protect a parent’s rights when the family must respond to a domestic violence situation.