Lately, the news has been filled with stories involving professional athletes and allegations of domestic violence and child abuse. What are the signs of child abuse? And what do you do if you believe your spouse is abusing your children? Or if your spouse is falsely claiming that you have been abusing your children in order to obtain child custody rights or prevent you from seeing your children after your divorce?
If child abuse is a real part of your divorce, there are certain steps you must take to make sure your children are protected.
In California, child abuse is defined as physical injury inflicted on a child by another person, the sexual abuse of a child, or emotional abuse. Child abuse can include neglect, or negligent treatment that threatens the child’s health or welfare. Physical abuse includes slapping a child hard enough to leave a mark, engaging in a physical fight with a child and leaving a mark on them, or even beating a child with a belt to discipline them.
What do you do if you know that your spouse, whom you are divorcing, punishes your child in ways you find to be excessive or inappropriate? First and foremost, gather evidence of the abuse (photos, text messages, and first-hand accounts from witnesses). Without proper evidence you may be accused of making a false allegation, which carries legal penalties, including monetary sanctions. Next, show your evidence to your divorce lawyer. As a rule, parents who abuse will not be given legal or physical custody of their children. They may, however, still be granted visitation. Courts can order supervised visitation, limited hours, ban overnight visits, require written approval to take the child out of county, or tell parents they can’t drink during or before visitation. Share your concerns with your family lawyer. If your child has been or is being abused by your spouse, discuss reporting the abuse to Child Protective Services with your divorce lawyer.
If you have been wrongfully accused of child abuse by an angry soon-to-be-ex, you need to reach out to an expert Los Angeles family attorney who has experience dealing with these situations. Your ability to spend time with your children could be at risk.
For more information on how to deal with a child abuser in a divorce, or how to respond to allegations of child abuse, contact the experienced family lawyers at Walzer Melcher today.