New Braunfels, Texas Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic Violence and Orders of Protection in Comal and Hays Counties
Last year, over 185,000 Texans called the state's family violence hotline for assistance, and another 84,000 followed up with a request for residential or non-residential services. Family violence takes many forms in many different situations, from physical force against a partner to emotional or verbal abuse of a child to threats against an in-law. Most counties in South Central Texas have specific courts that intervene in these situations to provide a safe distance between alleged abusers and potential victims, while introducing an element of stability in the household. Both short and long-term relief is available, in the form of protective orders and restrictive visitation orders.
At The Bettersworth Law Firm, our energetic team takes prompt and decisive action in this area. If you need immediate protection, we will do what it takes to help ensure your safety, while giving you the tools to build a more emotionally stable life for yourself and your family in the months and years to come.
Texas law broadly defines domestic violence to include both relationship violence and dating violence, in some circumstances. When considering the evidence in these cases, most judges look for a pattern of conduct in the last 24 months. So, if there was even one prior reported incident in the last two years, judges nearly always grant protective orders. Additionally, the applicant must prove that abuse is likely to occur in the future unless the court acts.
The terms and length of these orders vary, but usually include:
- A prohibition of communication,
- Orders to remain away from a specific place,
- Temporary financial support provisions,
- Surrender of owned firearms,
- Exclusion from a joint residence, at least in some cases, and
- Mandatory anger or substance abuse counseling.
Violation of a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor; a subsequent or enhanced violation is a third-degree felony.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody Orders
Just as the temporary orders often serve as blueprints for final orders in divorce cases, a protective order has a profound impact on the final custody orders, because Texas law presumes that contact with an abusive parent or caregiver is not in the children's best interest. Moreover, in the case of established physical violence, the abuser cannot have contact with the child for at least two years. Finally, on a practical level, most judges hesitate to double-back on a previous finding of domestic violence.
Typically, judge's order social worker evaluations in these cases to judge the extent of the psychological and emotional damage, and also make recommendations as to the child custody order. Most judges order restrictive visitation: the abuser may have supervised visitation with the children, at either a trusted relative's house or a day care-type facility, for a limited amount of time. These restrictions are sometimes re-evaluated after the passage of time or after the abuser completes an after-care program. In rare cases, the judge will terminate the abuser's parental rights.
Family violence has a profound effect on a family's physical and emotional well-being. For prompt assistance from an experienced attorney, contact The Bettersworth Law Firm at 830-606-0404. We serve individuals and families throughout South Central Texas.