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The problem of domestic violence and Texas family courts

While domestic violence is a very serious problem in Texas and nationwide, some family courts do not fully understand it. They may then accord it little weight in making custody decisions, leaving children to be exposed to it and victims to continue suffering at the hands of their abusers.

One of the issues is that both custody evaluators and courts may have poor understanding of domestic violence. Some custody evaluators have a stereotype that victims of domestic violence should act meek. They may be less likely to believe a victim who expresses anger about the abuse they have suffered or who is adamant about not sharing custody with the abusive parent.

Similarly, courts may believe that a victim is simply trying to alienate the children from the other parent, rather than taking note of the reported abuse. Even if a victim's allegations are substantiated, the court may still favor shared parenting for the children, only ordering sole custody when the perpetrator has also abused the children. Children who are exposed to domestic violence as they grow up are more likely to experience depression and other problems. They are also more likely to also become abusive when they are adults.

In a child custody case, the best interest of the child is the overriding considerations for the courts. Judges make custody orders according to what they believe to be the arrangement that will most benefit the child. People who have been abused by their child's other parent may want to discuss what happened with their family law attorney, who gather needed evidence to demonstrate to the court why a shared custody arrangement is not in the child's best interests.

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