Living in an abusive relationship is a terrible set of circumstances. That said, when there are children involved it can be even more stressful for Texas residents. Many people stay in unhealthy relationships for years to ensure that their kids do not have to go through child custody and visitation struggles with an abusive parent. Unfortunately, there are cases in which a family experiences the greatest possible loss during a child custody struggle.
According to research by the Center for Judicial Excellence, nearly 600 children have been killed at the hands of a parent over the past decade while a child custody case was underway. That outcome is simply unacceptable to many, and has led to a new resolution introduced by United States Representative Pat Meehan and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney. The resolution asks the courts to change the way that custody cases are handled when there are allegations of abuse. Instead of beginning with a focus on the best needs of the child, courts are asked to first consider any safety issues at play.
Currently, when one parent begs the court to place restrictions on the other party’s access to a shared child, those pleas rarely yield results. Unless there is a clear history of violence towards a child, the abusive parent is also allowed full and liberal access to the child during and after a custody battle. In some cases, the abusive parent will harm the child in order to harm the partner who fled the relationship.
The new resolution also asks that courts take a more stringent approach to the professionals that are assigned to assist in these types of cases. Whether a social worker, therapist or family evaluator, those individuals should possess expertise in the areas of domestic violence and abuse. That way they are able to provide the court with information and evaluations that are useful to creating a child custody outcome that provides safety for kids and victims of domestic violence, in Texas and across the country.
Source: readingeagle.com, “U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan seeks greater protection for kids in custody cases”, Beth Brelje, July 31, 2017