October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is important to speak up about domestic abuse, raise awareness, provide services, and provide information on how to navigate an unfortunate situation.
As of this year, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are victims of domestic violence in the United States. In Texas, during the pandemic, domestic violence has increased by 23%.
Domestic Violence and Divorce in Texas
If you are currently in a violent or abusive situation this article explains the legal steps for you to take action and to create a plan that will work to help you get away from your abuser.
Step1: Making the commitment to file for divorce
Texas, it a “no-fault” state so you can actually file for a divorce without giving a reason for the divorce. This can be helpful in your case and make things a little easier for you to file. However, if you have evidence of domestic violence, this evidence can be used in court. Having evidence can only not only benefit you but can also help you to get full custody if you have children. The evidence you will want to gather will include;
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Text message exchanges
At this time, you will also want to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you gather the necessary evidence you need. Your attorney will also start putting together a strong court case using your evidence.
Step 2: Informing your spouse
The next step would be to notify your spouse. Your texas divorce attorney will understand that this could be a dangerous situation to confront your spouse with a divorce. Confronting your spouse could even put you in a life-threatening situation. So, your attorney will inform your spouse of your request for a divorce on your behalf.
Step 3: Protecting yourself and your family
You will also want to find somewhere else to stay as it is not in your best interest to stay in the same home as your spouse. If you don’t have a friend or family member that you can stay with during your divorce. There are places that you can stay that have temporary housing accommodations along with support services. Here’s a link to a list of services that can help you.
You might also be advised by your attorney to place a restraining order against your spouse. This is an important safety measure to make sure that you and your family are protected from your spouse. You may also at this time be asked if you would like to file criminal charges against your spouse. If you have the evidence then your spouse can be charged without a warrant, and you do not have to testify against them in court. If you feel you want to testify to help the case and to further protect your children you may choose to do so.
Your divorce attorney will be able to guide you through this process and will also be able to provide you with temporary housing and help to set you up with the services that you need.
Step 4: Child Custody
In the state of Texas, if there is significant evidence of child abuse, neglect, or child endangerment against your spouse. Your spouse will not be awarded full or joint custody. Instead, the judge will grant a possession order to protect the children. Under this order, the spouse will only be able to see the children under supervision.
Step 5: Divorce timeline
Depending on the evidence, restraining order, and the charges of domestic abuse a divorce can be granted right away. If you do not have sufficient evidence and proof of abuse the divorce can take up to 60 days.
It is important that you not only have support during this difficult time but also hire the right divorce attorney to help you navigate this difficult situation.