Regardless of your marital status, it can be an incredibly difficult situation when you share custody of your child with another parent whom you suspect is physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive.
Parents sometimes call our office asking, “What can I do if the other parent abuses my child?” In short, this is a complex matter. If the other parent has parental rights and has been granted visitation or custody, you cannot legally keep the child from him or her without risking legal consequences.
Balancing the need to protect your child while abiding by the law and established court orders is incredibly difficult, and you are best served by hiring a family law attorney to help you through the situation.
Typically, you would want to hire an attorney and contact the Department of Children and Family Services to lodge an official complaint. Their personnel will get involved, conduct an investigation, and create a report of their findings and recommendations.
With the help of an attorney, you can petition the court to obtain a Civil Order of Protection. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, you have the right to ask the court to protect your child by issuing a restraining order against the abusive parent. You can file at any time and may wish to do so while the investigation is ongoing.
This requires the presentation of evidence, as well as a compelling argument for why the parent in question poses a danger to the child. Understandably, it is difficult for parents to present this evidence on their own due to the emotional nature of the case, close ties to those involved, and inexperience with the law. When dealing with something so critical, your case benefits from legal help—your child’s safety depends on the outcome of this hearing.
If either the court agrees with you or a state agency determines that the child should no longer be in the care of the abusive parent, the established custody arrangements will be changed. When changes are made to custody, child support will also be adjusted accordingly.
Visitation is likely to be eliminated, although in some cases supervised visitation may be ordered. This gives the other parent the opportunity to continue his or her relationship with the child while ensuring that the child’s safety is not compromised.
If you need to protect your child from an abusive spouse or parent, complete the contact form below or call 909-466-7661 to speak with the Law Office of Laurence J. Brock. Your child’s safety may depend on swift action, so there is no time to delay in requesting a Civil Order of Protection.