Texas Wesleyan Law Review


Shelly Holcomb

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This Note examines Texas Senate Bill 1408 (SB 140), passed by the Seventy-Seventh Texas Legislature, which amended Texas Family Code (TFC) section 153.004 relating to the history of domestic violence. The bill had two main purposes: (1) to give direction to judges "regarding the appointment of sole custody in family violence cases," and (2) to change the way Texas courts handle visitation when a parent has a history of domestic violence.' After a long Texas summer of well-publicized domestic violence cases, this amendment appeared to be the next logical, and much-needed, step in furtherance of the public policy of this state. However, the statute, as amended, fails to provide the necessary guidance to the courts because it leaves key terms undefined, fails to demonstrate what evidence the legislature presumes should rebut the presumptions it contains, and continues to utilize a standard of review that is too broad. Part II of this Note provides a brief background of the problem of domestic violence and of how the problem should factor into child custody and visitation determinations. Part III details how the Texas courts and legislature have responded to the problem. Part IV discusses the legislative history of SB 140 and the problems the bill addressed. Part V shows the inadequacies of TFC section 153.004 as amended and recommends that the corresponding Louisiana statute be used as a model for change. Part VI concludes that under Texas public policy, such changes are required.



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