Child Abuse and Child Custody: What to Know


When parents divorce, child custody can be a very contentious issue. Child abuse can cause widespread problems that can affect not just your divorce but also everyone involved. The family court system takes a hard stance on allegations of child abuse and so do the criminal courts. Read on to learn more about how this unfortunate situation could affect your child custody agreement.

What Is Meant by Child Abuse?

Child abuse can be open and obvious or hidden and subtle, and any form of child abuse can cause a parent to lose custody or visitation rights. Any act—be it physical or emotional—that threatens a minor child's life might be considered abuse. Here are a few of the more common forms of child abuse:

  • Physical abuse – hitting, slapping, shaking, shoving, and more
  • Mental abuse – threatening, berating, shaming, etc.
  • Neglect – failing to provide medical care, to feed, to bathe, and more
  • Sexual – adult sexual acts perpetrated on a minor child

Reporting Child Abuse

Parents have a duty to report child abuse to law enforcement authorities. In fact, failure to do so can mean that both parents end up charged with criminal child abuse. In some cases, divorced parents can both lose custody of the child if one parent fails to report on the other.

Proving Child Abuse

Suspicions of child abuse should never be ignored, but you cannot ask the court to change a custody or visitation agreement based on an unproven allegation. You will need several forms of proof before you ask for a custody hearing, such as:

  1. Medical and/or mental health records that detail the abuse
  2. Testimony of relatives, friends, neighbors, and others who have witnessed the abuse
  3. Police reports of abuse on your child, yourself, or on others in the past

Child Custody Evaluations

A professional evaluation may be needed as additional proof of abuse. Child custody evaluation experts interview the child using age-appropriate methods in an attempt to ascertain whether or not any abuse has taken place. For example, play therapy is a widely-accepted therapeutic method used when interviewing younger children. While the judge is not required to use the opinion of the evaluation expert in making a decision, it can carry a lot a weight.

What Might Happen as a Result of the Abuse?

If you've proven that your ex committed child abuse, there are several potential outcomes. If the level of abuse is severe, the judge can order that one parent be the sole custodian with no visitation rights for the other parent. Additionally, the judge may limit visitation so that only supervised visits are permitted.

Speak to a family law attorney to learn more about child custody and child abuse.


30 October 2018

divorce - tips for fathers fighting for custody

Divorce is never an easy situation. For fathers, it can be even more stressful because it is more difficult to obtain custody of the kids. Having gone through a divorce myself, I learned quite a bit about the additional steps that fathers should go through to ensure that they have a fair chance at gaining custody of the kids. My site is filled with the tips and advice that I received from my lawyer and other fathers that have gone through the same thing. Hopefully, what you learn on my site will help you achieve the outcome that you hope for.