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Texas Divorce Safety and Spousal Abuse FAQs
What should I do if my spouse is abusing me?
It’s tragically common for people seeking divorces in Texas to have a history of being abused by their spouse. Many people who are abused are fearful about how a divorce might affect that abuse. Some worry their exes might stalk or harm them. Others have financial concerns.
If your ex abuses you, meet with a lawyer before you file for divorce. The lawyer can advise you of your legal rights, take proactive measures to protect your safety, and address financial concerns. Your partner cannot summarily remove you or your children from your home, and must pay to help support your children. If you need help now, please contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-787-3224.
Until you get help to get out, document each and every instance of abuse. Consider storing documentation in a safe space, or uploading it to cloud storage so that your ex cannot destroy it.
Can I seek a restraining order against my spouse?
In Texas, courts will issue a protective order if you can show that there is reason for you to be concerned about your safety around your ex. Calling you too frequently and annoying you aren’t enough; you need to show a pattern of abuse or threats. Most people seeking restraining orders due to domestic violence, psychological abuse, stalking, child abuse, and other concerns have no difficulty getting one. You should work with a lawyer who can represent your case in the best possible light to the judge, since the emotions inherent in a history of abuse can make it difficult to clearly and succinctly present your case.
What should I do if my ex is abusing my children?
If your ex has previously abused your children, you should tell your lawyer immediately. You may be eligible for a protective order that protects your children, prevents your ex from taking them, and protects you from further abuse.
If the abuse is new, or if you only suspect abuse, the strategy can get more complicated. You’ll need to prove to the court that the abuse has occurred. And if you think it’s happening when you’re not with your kids, that can be difficult. You may need a child psychologist, and you’ll almost certainly need a lawyer. The good news is that, once you show the court your ex is abusing your children, you can seek a protective order to keep your ex away from your children. The court can also order your ex to go to counseling or take other measures that eventually enable him or her to safely spend time with your children. Don’t try to manage this on your own.
If you have evidence of abuse, document it in a safe space. A written, dated log detailing each instance of alleged abuse can also help. If your child comes home from your ex’s house with injuries, take him or her to the doctor and take photos of the injuries. Reporting injuries to a doctor can help you avoid being blamed for them. It may also make it easier to pursue a restraining order that protects your child from your ex.
What should I do if my ex seeks a restraining order against me?
If your ex seeks a restraining order against you, you need a lawyer. If you have no children and no desire to see your ex, however, you might just let the protective order go into place. If the protective order is issued, you can go to jail for failing to abide by its terms.
If you have children, you need to fight the restraining order, even if it only prevents you from contacting your ex. Not only will the protective order make it more difficult to have a relationship with your children. It may also ultimately be used against you in a child custody case.
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