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Child custody after abuse can further complicate divorce issues

For those who are victims of domestic violence, the idea of relinquishing custody of their children to their abuser seems inconceivable. Many instigators of abuse have found that the court system can sometimes enable one to continue the abuse by means of obtaining joint child custody. A Texas representative has introduced a bill that would require family courts to investigate all claims of abuse before ruling in matters of custody.

A young mother recently found the rekindling of a love with her son's estranged father to be blissful and full of hope. After they married, she learned that he was controlling and violent, not only towards her, but also towards their son. One incident led to the police intervening and the removal of the father from the property. After filing for a divorce, the woman received phone calls from two women who were also in custody battles with her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Experts are finding that abusers will continue to exert control by seeking custodial rights over their children. This type of coercive control includes stalking, financial and emotional abuse, and using the children to discredit the non-offending parent. Courts often will not consider the abuse as a mitigating factor with regards to child custody, and they will often agree to unsupervised or shared visits, further complicating the path to recovery for the victim of the abuse.    

When abuse is present in a relationship, the emotional and physical effects can be far reaching. Removing one's self from the abuse is crucial; however, it can be extremely complicated, especially when children are involved. Should one find that child custody has become an issue, seeking the support and guidance of a Texas attorney can be invaluable. Understanding parental rights for all involved and how to present abuse in the courts to protect children is crucial to helping to end the abuse.

Source: psmag.com, "For Abuse Survivors, Custody Remains a Means by Which Their Abusers Can Retain Control", Natalie Pattillo, March 29, 2018

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