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Protecting a child against an abusive parent in a divorce

Many people in Texas might assume that if a parent leaves an abusive relationship, that person and his or her child will be protected from further contact with the abuser. However, according to the American Psychological Association, since family courts are focused on the importance of the child having contact with both parents, they may dismiss abuse reports. Furthermore, in 2012, the American Judges Association released a report that revealed that in about 70 percent of custody cases that were challenged, the abusive parents successfully convinced a court that the victims were unfit or should not have sole custody.

Experts say custody evaluators who are untrained in domestic violence are one element of the problem. These evaluators may believe that a battered parent should be depressed instead of angry or might declare a depressed parent mentally unfit for custody. The abused parent might be accused of trying to turn the children against the other parent.

Two years ago, a Texas representative introduced a congressional resolution that would require abuse cases to be thoroughly investigated before a family court could move forward on decisions about child custody. The resolution remains stalled in the House Judiciary Committee, although it has the bipartisan support of 34 representatives and the endorsement of many domestic violence organizations. However, the bill may pass before the end of this session that ends in January 2019.

People who are concerned about their children's safety around their other parents because of issues such as abuse or neglect might want to discuss strategies for keeping their kids safe. A person's ex-spouse may want to restrict his or her access to their child or ensure that he or she has no access at all. If someone has medical records, police reports, photographs or other documentation of abuse, this could be helpful in building a case.

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