Child abuse is a parent’s worst nightmare. While many parents are vigilant about protecting their children from strangers, often the abuser is much closer to home. If you believe that your child is being abused by your former spouse or partner, you need to take appropriate steps to protect your children.
In an Emergency, Call the Police
Criminal charges require concrete evidence of abuse, and filing unsubstantiated charges could hurt your divorce case or modification petition. But if your child is in imminent danger or is seriously injured, call the police. If your child seems to be alright and is not facing an immediate threat of abuse, speak with your family law attorney before calling the police.
Speak With Your Attorney
If you suspect your former spouse or partner of abusing or neglecting your children, address your concerns with your attorney. He or she can help you present your concerns to the court in a way which will be taken seriously by your judge, or can help you obtain a restraining order on behalf of you and your children. A family law attorney can also request that your ex attend counseling, or be investigated by family services to assess the threat.
Allegations of abuse are rarely helpful without evidence that the child or children are being mistreated or neglected. It is important to speak with your children if you suspect abuse, and write down any information which could support your claims. Record dates and times of any suspicious instances, and take photos of any injuries. This evidence can help your case both in divorce court and in criminal court.
Modify Custody and/or Visitation
People who abuse or neglect children should not be allowed custody or visitation. If you have proof that your children are being abused, your child custody or visitation order can be modified to keep the children away from their abuser. In the most extreme cases of child abuse, a person’s parental rights can be terminated, which ensures that they will have no right to be alone with the child again.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law we share your disgust and outrage when your former partner is abusive or violent. We will work with you to negotiate a divorce or custody agreement that keeps your children safe and makes you comfortable.
For help with child custody and protecting your children, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.