The origin and basis of family law statutes and precedent in Texas were heavily influenced by the predecessor Spanish/Mexican Law prior to the formation of the Texas Republic. Spanish Law required in large measure that a husband and wife share ownership and if a divorce was granted then a 50/50 split of all property would ensue. Though there are exceptions to this, a general tenant of Texas property law states that both spouses will receive half of all the property they accrue during the marriage called “community property”, not inherited or received by gift. The influence of Spanish Law is a primary reason that for many years Texas has not favored any type of permanent alimony (also called spousal maintenance) after divorce.
In 1995 the Texas Legislature passed the first Spousal Maintenance Law that allowed a limited type of alimony. The law has been amended many times but in its current form it allows, upon proper proof, a spouse, under specific conditions to receive post-divorce money from their spouse for future support. The eligibility for Spousal Maintenance in Texas is limited and narrowly constructed.
Texas Family Code 8.051 states the requirements for a spouse to be eligible for Spousal Maintenance (alimony) as follows:
The spouse in which requests the spousal maintenance has been a victim of family violence by their husband or wife and the offense occurred:
- within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed or;
- while the suit is pending
The spouse seeking spousal maintenance:
- is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
- has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer or lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
- is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
The qualifications are narrow. Spousal Maintenance focuses on a spouse who has been a victim of family violence, has a mental or physical disability, or has been married for at least 10 years. The amount of money the Court will allow to be paid to a spouse monthly cannot exceed the lessor of 5,000 or 20% of a spouse’s average monthly gross income per Texas Family Code 8.005.
If you are in the process of divorce, and have been a victim of family violence or have been married for at least 10 years, then speak with an experienced attorney about the possibility of obtaining Spousal Maintenance. Spousal Maintenance is not a permanent fix but a temporary solution until you can get back on your feet. Texas Courts are hesitant in granting spousal maintenance because the spouse of a marriage generally receives half of all property accrued during the marriage. If the required extraordinary circumstances are present it is possible to receive some type of alimony for a limited amount of time.
Contact an experienced attorney that deals with matters to inform you if spousal maintenance is possibility. If you have been a victim of family violence or have been a stay at home mom for at least 10 years then you may have the ability to receive a limited form of alimony to help aid you with the daunting task of finding a new job and starting a new life.
The Texas Family Code defines Family Violence as an act by a member of the family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat on a family member in danger of imminent physical harm. This abuse is defined as physical injury that results in substantial harm or genuine threat of sexual, intercourse or conduct; or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct.
What does “family” include? Individuals related by blood or affinity, marriage or former marriage, biological parents of the same child, foster children, and members or former members of the same household (including roommates).
What about child abuse?
Some very interesting statistics:
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse
70% of children that die from abuse are under age of 4
Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level within all ethnic and cultural lines and all religions and all levels of education!
Approximately 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children
Statistics re: childhelp.org
In Texas (2008 Crime in Texas.com), victims are primarily female (75%) and the offenders are primarily male (77%). The primarily weapon involved in family violence is physical force with the use of hands, feet or fists (78%).
How can you know if child abuse exists in a household?
Look for these most common child abuse indicators in children:
Injuries that are unexplained
Major and sudden changes in a child’s behavior
Return to earlier behavior: such as bed wetting, thumb sucking, and fear of dark or strangers or more serious language or memory problems
Serious fear of going home
Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Changes in school performance or attendance
Lack of personal care or hygiene
New risk taking behaviors
Inappropriate sexual behavior
If you are a family member, friend, teacher, or child-care giver of a child who has started displaying very different behaviors or showing injuries, it is imperative that you contact someone who can either help this child or prevent any more family violence from occurring in this child’s family. This child and family need help now!
Domestic Violence is a very hot topic now. Major personalities from government, business, entertainment, sports, and religious sectors are protesting Domestic Violence and working to help create stronger laws to protect the victims of such violence.
If you are a Victim of Domestic Abuse, you must fight back! No one has the legal right to physically, mentally, or verbally abuse another individual! If you are a relative, friend or acquaintance of a potential victim or victims, please look for warning signs of abuse being committed on these people, asset legal defense on this conduct, and report your findings to the police.
Often victims are so mentally and verbally abused, they do not have the strength to defend themselves or their family. Truly be a friend and help to protect their lives by reporting any fact based suspicion of abuse to the proper authorities.
Some warning signs to look for in an abuser or a potential abuser’s conduct in a relationship:
Push for Quick involvement
A victim often has known or dated the abuser for a brief period of time before getting engaged or living together. The abuser pressures the victim for an exclusive commitment immediately.
Jealousy & Controlling Behavior
An abuser will equate jealously with love and controlling behavior to concern for the victim. The abuser becomes jealous of time spent with others. The abuser may call the victim frequently during the day, drop by unexpectedly, refuse to let the victim work, check the car mileage, or ask friends to watch the victim. As the behavior progresses and the situation worsen, the abuser may assume all control of finances or prevent the victim from coming or going freely.
An abuser expects the victim to be the perfect partner, and to frankly, without error, meet his or her every need.
An abuser will attempt to isolate the victim by severing the victim’s ties to outside support, relationships, and resources. The batterer will accuse the victim’s friends and family of being “trouble makers.” The abuser may block the victim’s access to use of a phone, car, and also discourage the victim from working. No outside contact with the rest of the world.
Playing the Victim
An abuser will blame and project upon others for all problems shortcomings. Someone is always out to get the abuser or is an obstacle to the abuser’s achievements.
Blames others for feelings
An abuser will use feelings to manipulate the victim. Common phrases to look for: “You’re hurting me by not doing what I want.” “You control how I feel.”
An abusive person is easily insulted, claiming hurt felling when he or she is really mad.
Cruelty to animals or children
This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain. The abuser may also expect children to perform beyond their capability and use physical force if a child cannot comply. 65% of abusers who beat their victims will also abuse children.
“Playful” use of force in sex
This behavior includes restraining partners against their will during sex, acting out fantasies in which the partner is helpless, initiating sex when the partner is asleep, or demanding sex when the partner is ill or tired. The abuser may also find the idea of rape exciting.
Constantly criticizes or says cruel things, degrades, curses, or calls the victim bad names. Sleep deprivation could be involved with relentless verbal abuse.
Rigid sex roles
The abuser will expect the victim to serve, obey and remain home to serve on the abuser
Sudden Mood Swings
Explosive behavior and moodiness, which can shift quickly from sweet to violent in minutes.
An abuser will beat any partner if the individual is involved with the abuser long enough for the cycle of abuse to begin.
Threats of violence
This consists of any threat of physical force meant to control the partner. Most people do not threaten their mates but an abuser will excuse this behavior by claiming “everyone talks like that.”
Physical force during an argument
This may involve an abuser holding down the victim, blocking escape routes and physically restraining the victim from leaving, pushing or shoving. Holding someone back in order to make demands, such as “You will listen to me!” is also a show of force.
The statutory rights of grandparents in response to a child in the State of Texas, absent existing executions, are minimal. The Texas Courts observe the rights of the parents to prohibit visitation and communication of these children from their grandparents if the parents wish. There are however limited circumstances when grandparents of a child may petition the Court to receive an order that forces the child’s parents to let the grandparents see the children on a regular basis. Texas Courts honor the rights of the parents and must presume that a fit parent makes such decisions, as to who the child may or may not see, those decisions are in the best interest of the child.
In order for a grandparent to interfere with a parent’s right to prohibit the grandparents from seeing the child, the grandparent must prove three elements under 153.433 of the Texas Family Code:
a) The Court may order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent if:
- At the time the relief is requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child has not had the parent’s parental rights terminated;
- The grandparent requesting possession of or access to the child overcomes the presumption that a parent acts in the best interest of the parent’s child by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being; and
- The grandparents requesting possession of or access to the child are a parents of a parent of the child and that parent of the child:
A) Has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the petition;
B) Has been found by a court to be incompetent
C) Is dead; or
D) Does not have actual or court-ordered possession of or access to the child.
This Statute is limited in application because the Texas legislature gives deference to the parents’ fundamental authority to determine who their child may and may not see.
An example will help clarify this Statute. If a grandparent’s son died in car accident and the grandparent had been helping their son and daughter in-law raise the children, then the grandparents could request visitation rights. The daughter in-law would have to be alive and not have her parental rights terminated. The grandparents would have to prove to the Court by a preponderance of the evidence (more probable than not) that the denial of visitation would significantly impair the children’s’ physical health or emotional well-being. If the grandparents were helping raise the children the grandparents would request some type of visitation for the well-being of the children. These fact situations must be significant because Texas Courts and statutes make it difficult for grandparents to receive any type of visitation or possession if it is not in line with the parents’ wishes.
If you are a grandparent or a mother/father of a child in which the grandparents are attempting to sue you for some type of visitation, it is important to contact a qualified attorney to be informed of your options.
When you think of domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence between couples what usually comes to mind? A woman being hurt or abused? This is the majority of public thought in the United States, yet the latest studies on domestic violence are showing a new and very alarming trend: notable rising rates on Intimate Partner Violence against Men.
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. This was a serious eye opener on violence and men. In the United State for the previous 12 months, app. 5,365,000 men had been victims of intimate Partner physical violence compared with 4,741,000 women. This physical violence includes slapping, pushing, & shoving. Also tracked were more serious threats of being beaten, burned, choked, kicked, slammed with a heavy object or hit with a fist. Roughly 40% of the victims of severe physical violence were men. Again in 2011 the CDC repeated the survey and the results were almost identical!
Domestic violence (intimate partner violence) against men include emotional, sexual, verbal, physical abuse or threats of abuse. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Have you ever felt scared of your partner and changed your behavior since you were afraid of what your partner might do? If so, you may be in an abusive relationship.
Are you being abused? What are the warning signs? What kind of abuse are you experiencing?
Emotional & Verbal Abuse:
- Calls you names, belittles you, or puts you down regularly
- Is jealous and possessive and accuses you without just cause of being unfaithful
- Tries to isolate you from family and friends
- Tries to totally control your life: how you spend your money, what you wear and where you may be going
- Constantly makes unreasonable demands for your attention.
- Blames you for her violent behavior and says you deserve it
- Gets very angry or violent when drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Biting, burning, or choking you
- Hitting, punching, or slapping
- Pushing, shoving, or throwing things at you
- Knifing or burning you
- Forcibly holding you down
- Hurting you, your children or your pets
- Forcing you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
- Hurting you during sex
- Forcing you to have unsafe sex
Threats and Intimidation:
- Threatens to hurt / kill you
- Threatens to kill themselves or the children
- Stalks you
- Reads all your emails, texts, or mail
- Destroys things that belong to you
Being a man in an abusive relationship, it may seem hard finding the help that you need. It has been estimated that about 20% of men who call the police to report an abusive spouse /partner are themselves arrested for domestic violence.
You do not have to stay in an abusive relationship. You need to start by discussing your situation with either someone you trust or a health professional who can give you guidance. Gather evidence on what is happening, photographs of any injury or bruises experienced during a confrontation, threatening emails or texts that can be used in a court of law, make a list of people who have experienced confrontations between you and your intimate partner.
Stay away from any type of violence with your partner since she may try to put you into a damaging situation with the police to make you look like the abuser or try to entrap you.
You can overcome these challenges and escape from the abusive intimate partner. If you have a family or are concerned for your well-being, contact a legal professional who can help you break from this situation and also work to get your children out of harm’s way. Just remember, if you are not available for her domestic violence, a predator will look for someone else to take your place and children are easy targets!