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THE PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF DISCOVERY  

Family and Domestic Violence Divorce Strategy

Family and Domestic Violence Affects All Kinds of Families

Domestic violence, also known as family violence, affects millions of people every year. Family and domestic violence is aggressive or violent conduct within the home, often involving violent abuse of a past or present spouse or partner. When the victim is married to the abuser the victim often files for divorce and pursue a unique family and domestic violence divorce strategy.

Family violence in Texas means an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.

When a domestic violence victim decides to leave, they need an experienced divorce lawyer and a divorce strategy to specifically address special issues of child custody, the division of the marital estate, settlement and alimony or spousal maintenance.

Forms of Family and Domestic Violence: Not All Violence Leaves Marks

While cuts and bruises are easily identified evidence that someone has been abused. Not all domestic violence causes a bruise or physical injury. Threats, stalking, using drugs and abusing substances, sexual abuse are forms of family violence, in addition to direct physical abuse. It is important to note that family violence occurs when a parent allows a child to use illegal drugs.

Traumatic brain injury is another result of ongoing abuse and the same lasting effects of brain injury from concussions and injuries from force trauma. So, when there are broken bones and bruises, there may also be brain injury.

Recognizing Violence and Abuse and Leaving

Controlling behavior of another can be a sign of abuse and domestic violence. The same people identified as domestic violence abusers were likely once victims of abuse themselves. While some focus on figuring out why people commit family violence, people in danger need to get to safety and protect themselves and their children.

People stop making excuses for their abuser when violence leads to injuries and damage to the safety and well-being of spouses and children. When violence escalates, and something happens, it is time to leave. Many victims first meet their divorce lawyer when they call seeking a protective order, sometimes at the same time they file their divorce petition.

Divorce Strategy for Family and Domestic Violence Victims

Divorce – While many divorces are plead as a “no-fault-divorce,” in Texas you can plead a fault ground, such as cruelty, which can be challenging, but is an option. Cruelty is cruel treatment toward one spouse that makes living together insupportable. Proving the cruelty ground for divorce can be challenging. Much of the evidence of cruel behavior and non-physical abuse requires testimonial evidence from people with personal knowledge.

Child Custody – Child custody requires a different strategy when there are allegations and or findings of family violence in Texas. Family violence impacts child custody. The court may not appoint joint managing conservators when credible evidence of abuse or violence is presented; a sole managing conservator will be appointed. Parenting time, what we refer to as possession and access in Texas may be limited and supervised in certain situations.

Property Division – A greater share in the division of the community estate can be awarded to family violence. They may ask for their greater share to be represented by being the family home, a vehicle or other asset that would be otherwise divided.

Spousal Maintenance – Spousal maintenance may be awarded in a Texas divorce when the spouse seeking maintenance is eligible. One of the eligibility factors is a conviction or deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child. Note that the offence must have occurred within two years before the date of filing the divorce or while the suit for dissolution of marriage is pending.

Being Wrongly Accused of Domestic Violence

Family and domestic violence and divorce strategy are also important when one spouse defends against accusations and allegations of family violence. People who are wrongly accused of domestic violence and need an experienced divorce lawyer who has experienced false accusations in other divorce cases and hearings for protective orders.

Considering the source of false claims, there can be reasons one spouse may wrongly accuse the other spouse of family violence. Especially when drugs and alcohol may be involved, there can be confusion about events and actions that may not have happened as someone remembers and alleges.

Is the wrongful accuser attempting to gain a larger share of assets in the divorce? Are they trying to gain eligibility for spousal maintenance where they may otherwise have not been eligible?

If found guilty or liable for family violence, the person found to be the abusive spouse may not only have to worry about the protective order issued against them in a he-said-she-said case, they may receive an unfair settlement and child custody determination.

It is important to take all accusations and allegations of domestic and family violence seriously, and it is important to hire an experienced and aggressive divorce trial attorney to represent you.

In Dallas, Collin and Denton Counties, Mark L. Scroggins is known for taking on the challenging cases involving allegations of domestic and family violence. You may call Scroggins Law Group to schedule a private consultation by dialing (214) 469-3100.

Mark L. Scroggins is Board-Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He and his team of talented trial attorneys, paralegals and support staff work with you when your divorce requires a domestic and family violence divorce strategy.