Custody and Child Abuse: What to Do if You Suspect Domestic Violence

Children are often on the losing end of the situation when parents get divorced, and if you and your ex don’t get along, the situation is often very difficult. Even harder is not knowing what to do when your child consistently comes home to you with bruises or scratches that seem out of place. If you suspect your child is being abused when they are in the care of your ex, you must take immediate action as well as consider some long term plans.

Things To Do Right Away

It doesn’t matter if it’s your ex, their new partner, or even a friend that comes over to the house of your child’s other parent—if abuse is happening it must be reported right away. If you have clues that lead you to believe physical or emotional abuse is occurring, contact law enforcement and have them begin an investigation. There are also many abuse hotlines that can be called to start to get immediate intervention in place.

What Next?

After you’ve gotten your child safely out of the abusive environment, you might want to think about getting a restraining order if the child’s other parent is a threat to your safety. Depending on the severity of the situation, this might be issued on an emergency basis.

As a more long term solution, think about contacting the court to make changes to your child custody order. The burden of proof will be on you to collect evidence of the abuse. Often times this evidence comes in the form of medical or mental health records, or can be communicated as witness testimony. Make sure to write down every incident that happens, and bring in friends or other family members who can testify to the abuse.

If the judge determines that abuse is taking place, the parent in question might have their visitation rights reduced, monitored, or completely revoked. Any visitation they are allowed to have might need to be supervised. If the abuse is serious enough, the parent in question might lose all access to their child and their rights as a parent.

Remember, child abuse is extremely serious and doesn’t always stem from your ex. It’s very common for another person in the home to be the abuser, so make every effort to be aware of the people your child is around when they aren’t in your custody. If you suspect your child is being abused and you need help with your case, contact Topham Family Law today.

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Written by Jaime Topham