Much like Capital Murder and DWI law, family violence has developed its own body of law over the years. For example, the Family Code has expanded its definition of what constitutes “domestic violence” or “family violence” to persons who are not “related” in the traditional sense. A person is a member of a family if they are related by consanguinity (blood) or affinity, if they are former spouses of each other, if they are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage or if they are a foster child or foster parent without regard to whether they reside together. If also includes persons who are dating, and those who have previously lived in a household.
Family Violence Conviction Consequences
Under Texas divorce law, a person is generally not entitled to spousal maintenance unless they have been married for at least ten (10) years. However, section 8.051 of the Family Code provides for spousal maintenance to a spouse who has been the victim of family violence, regardless of how long the couple was married. For purposes of that statute, deferred adjudication is as good as a conviction.
If a person has a “history of domestic violence,” the court hearing any Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship must deny the offender access to the child under the Family Code. In addition to the denial of access, the Court may consider any evidence of abuse occurring within two (2) years of filing for divorce when determining whether to appoint managing conservators. If there is credible evidence that family violence has occurred during this time period, the court may not appoint joint managing conservators.