Friday, October 11, 2013

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Parental Right: Watts v. Watts

Under Texas law, when there is a pattern or history of abuse by one parent against another, then the Court may not grant Joint Managing Conservatorship.  (Texas Family Code 153.004).  But what if BOTH parents are found to be abusing EACH OTHER?  When both parents act as the abuser and the victim can the court ignore the rule of 153.004 and appoint both parents Joint Managing Conservators?

No.  Under the case of Watts v. Watts, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 8978 (Tex. App. - San Antonio, October 31, 2012) (Cause No. 04-11-0777-CV) the Court of Appeals held that rulings on conservatorship must still follow the "no JMC" rule of 153.004 because it reasoned that when there is a history or pattern of abuse by both parties against each other, it necessarily includes a history of abuse by one against the other.  Therefore 153.004 kicks in even though there is plenty of blame to go around.

In such cases of mutual spousal abuse, the jury or judge must appoint only one of spouses as the sole managing conservator.  This is truly a choice of the lesser of two evils.