When it comes to child custody cases in Texas, the court’s primary focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of the child. This commitment becomes even more critical when one of the parents involved has a history of assault, even if it resulted in deferred adjudication. Understanding how the Texas Family Code addresses these issues is crucial for any parent navigating a custody case.
Deferred Adjudication and Its Implications
Deferred adjudication in Texas allows a defendant to plead guilty or no contest to an assault charge, with the judge deferring the finding of guilt. Upon successful completion of probation, the charges may be dismissed. However, this does not mean that the incident is wiped from your record, and it can still play a significant role in custody proceedings.
Texas Family Code and Family Violence
The Texas Family Code is explicit in its stance on family violence and its impact on conservatorship decisions:
- Section 153.004: This section mandates that the court must consider any evidence of family violence when determining the best interests of the child. It also prohibits appointing parents as joint managing conservators in cases where there is a credible history of child neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or family violence.
- Section 153.005: This section requires a preponderance of the evidence to establish a history or pattern of family violence, which the court must then consider in making conservatorship decisions.
- Section 153.008: In cases where family violence is found, the court may order the offending party to attend programs or counseling to address the issue.
Impact on Custody Cases
In a custody case, a history of assault, even with deferred adjudication, can be a significant detriment to a parent’s case. The court will scrutinize the parent’s past behavior, assessing whether they can provide a safe and stable environment for the child. A history of family violence, as defined by the Texas Family Code, can limit a parent’s chances of obtaining sole or joint managing conservatorship.
Strategies for Parents with Deferred Adjudication
- Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney: An attorney well-versed in Texas family law is essential. They can help navigate the legal complexities and ensure that your rights are protected.
- Be Prepared: Gather all necessary documentation and be ready to provide context to the assault charge and any steps taken towards rehabilitation.
- Demonstrate Change: Show the court that you have taken steps to learn from past mistakes and have actively worked to create a safe environment for your child.
While deferred adjudication for an assault charge adds complexity to a Texas custody case, it does not automatically disqualify a parent from obtaining custody. It does make for an uphill battle. With the right legal support and a demonstrated commitment to change, parents can work to secure a favorable outcome in their custody case.