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Texas domestic violence protections

Unfortunately, marital and family disputes could escalate. This escalation could turn into domestic violence, which could result in great harm to those invovled. Texas provides some protections against situation that could seriously impact the family's lives, spousal relationships and fathers' rights.

The law defines these acts, known as family violence, as any act by a member of the family or household against another member that is made or designed to cause physical harm or bodily injury or which comprises an assault. It also includes threats to others of harm or assault.

This violence also includes any harmful acts by a family member directed toward children in the household. These include causing physical injury that causes or has the risk of causing significant harm, harmful sexual conduct incuding acts that violate Texas criminal laws protecting minors, compelling or encouraging the child to take part in illegal sexual activities, allowing or encouraging the child to take part in child pornography or using a controlled substance which injures the child.

Victims can seek a protective order from the court which is intended to prevent or reduce the threat of this domestic violence. Courts may order the abuser to stop committing family violence, stop all communication with the victim and other family members made directly or through another person, keep away from the victim's or family members workplaces, schools or daycare. A court can also require that they meet with a domestic violence counselor or attend a domestic violence prevention program.

The judge can set new child custody and visitation terms, assuring that children remain within its jurisdiction. Abusers may be prohibited from transferring or selling any property and taking away any pets or assistance animals. Abusers may also have to pay child support or spousal support during the time the order remains in effect and surrender their firearms. Under certain conditions, a court can order that the abuser leave the family home while allowing the other family members to remain.

Courts may also issue these orders against an abuser who engages in dating violence. These are acts intended to cause physical harm or the threat of harm against the victim who had an ongoing close or romantic relationship with the abuser. Often, these orders must be sought very quickly, making it a difficult situation for a victim. A lawyer can help a victim seek legal protection and protect themselves from abusers.

Source: WomensLaw.org, "Family violence protective orders," Accessed July 19, 2016

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