One of the worst things any parent can face is realizing that their child has been abused, neglected, or mistreated in any way. This situation can be even worse when the offender is the child’s other parent or another close family member charged with protecting and caring for them. If you are divorced or no longer romantically attached to your child’s other biological parent but the other parent has some custody or visitation rights, you must know what you can do if you discover that your child has been subject to any abuse at the hands of their other parent.
Taking Legal Steps to Protect Your Child
If you suspect their other parent has abused your child, it is vital to confirm your suspicions before attempting to take any formal legal action against them. If your child cannot tell you what happened to them, have their doctor examine them to determine whether their injuries result from abuse or just an accident. Most children who experience abuse from their parents and caregivers are intimidated to prevent them from telling anyone else about what happened. Most parents are intuitive enough when it comes to their children that they can tell when a child is keeping the truth from them.
Once you confirm that your child has been abused, you should notify the police immediately and contact your attorney. The police can conduct an arrest if necessary and provide the groundwork for a protective order immediately. In addition, the family court systems in the United States take allegations of child abuse very seriously, and your attorney can assist you in expeditiously securing a legally enforceable protective order that prevents your child from further contact with an abusive parent.
How Your Attorney Can Help
Suppose your child has been abused in any way by their other parent. In that case, an experienced family law attorney can help you take formal legal steps to prevent any further abuse, up to and including a petition to terminate the other parent’s custody and visitation rights. In addition, your attorney will help you gather whatever evidence you need to prove that domestic violence occurred and guide you through the difficult legal proceedings to follow.
The family court system has a legal obligation to always rule in favor of protecting children and ruling in their best interests. Your attorney can help you secure sole custody over your child, expand the child support you receive from the other parent, and ensure the other parent faces reasonable legal penalties for their behavior. The court takes domestic violence very seriously, especially when it involves children. If you can prove that your child’s other parent abused your child, the court will likely strip the other parent of any custody and visitation rights they may have had.
Understanding Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
When a parent has lost parental rights due to involuntary termination, especially when the root cause is domestic abuse of their child, it will be virtually impossible to recover any measure of custody or visitation rights in the future, even if they prove rehabilitation after several years. Loss of parental rights will not result in their escaping parental responsibilities, however. The at-fault parent will still be required to pay child support to their child’s custodial parent per the terms of their child custody order. However, it is very likely that their involuntary termination of parental rights will dramatically influence any existing custody and support orders.
Child support determinations typically hinge on the child’s economic needs, the income of each of the child’s parents, and the court’s determinations regarding custody. Typically, the parent who has more significant physical custody of their children will receive child support from the noncustodial parent. Consider the example of a custody arrangement where the primary custodial parent has their children during the week, and the children visit their other parent during weekends. If the parent with weekend custody abuses their child and loses parental rights, the other parent will likely assume full custody of the children, leading to a more significant burden on the custodial parent. This will be reflected in the support agreement between the parents, and the at-fault parent will face additional legal penalties for their bad behavior.
How Long Do Protective Orders Last?
If your situation demands that you secure a protective order against your child’s other parent, you may wonder how extensive this type of order can be. When the situation arises, the custodial parent will likely obtain a temporary or emergency protective order until the family court can issue a permanent order. Permanent protective orders last for a set number of years determined by the judge, until the child reaches the age of majority, or until the order is dissolved through a formal legal process, but dissolving a protective order is very difficult and requires compelling evidence.
Violation of a protective order will entail severe consequences. Once you obtain a legally enforceable protective order against your child’s other parent, they can face imprisonment, fines, and other penalties if they violate it in any way. If you believe your child’s other parent broke the terms of a protective order in any fashion, consult your attorney about the best way to address the situation.
Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse
Child abuse is tragic and can leave lasting trauma on children who experience it. If your child has suffered any form of abuse at the hands of their other parent, you should take whatever steps you deem necessary as a parent to help them recover. You can also consult your attorney and have them connect you with local support resources. Shelters, support groups, social workers, and counseling services are great places to start if you want your child to recover as fully as possible from their experiences.
Taking swift legal action is the best thing any parent can do when they need to protect their children from further abuse at the hands of their other parent. If you suspect that your child has been harmed or neglected in any way by their other parent, contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to determine the best steps to take to address the situation.