Burt v. Francis arose from a contentious Texas divorce involving family violence. The trial court dissolved the marriage on May 29, 2014. There were three children. Although the couple had agreed to the terms of the divorce decree, they still fought over their three children. The mother later testified that the father was required to have the overnights with the kids at his mother’s house, and his behavior worsened after their divorce.
On the day after the divorce, the father was angry when he picked the children up for their weekend. He started yelling and smacking his fists. The mother was worried about his ability to drive safely and called the sheriff. That night, the father returned the children. The parents argued. The father pulled the three-year-old out of her arms and woke up the older child, and he left with all the children. He also threatened the children and told them the mother was a bad person. She called the sheriff again.
On June 30th, the father came by and berated the children, again claiming the mother was evil. The mother asked him to leave, but he wouldn’t. Their son was terrified. The father at another point shot a handgun at the mother’s house, claiming he was just showing the kids his new gun. The mother later would testify that the children were afraid of their father and that his actions were intimidating and oppressive.