As a parent, you want to protect your child from any type of harm, even if the injury is being caused by your spouse. The law recognizes that children are not strong enough or old enough to combat abuse, and if there is valid proof of child abuse or neglect, a child may be removed from a home. In cases where one parent is the abuser, custody of the child may be relegated to the "safe" parent. Here are a few questions and answers to help make sense of child custody in cases of child abuse:
What is considered abuse?
Any action that threatens the emotional or physical well being of a minor is considered child abuse. Likewise, a lack of action may be deemed neglect. If a child is not provided with adequate medical treatment, food or personal hygiene items, he or she may be considered neglected, and the parent or parents responsible for providing for the youngster may be found unfit. Likewise, any signs of emotional, physical or sexual harm may be termed abuse and will lessen the chance of a parent being awarded custody.
Who gets custody if there is evidence that both parents abused a child?
In cases where both parents are found unfit due to neglect or abuse, care of the abused child may be assumed by a government agency, such as the Department of Family and Children Services. In such a case, the child may be assigned to a foster family or a relative.
Can the abusing parent visit the child after custody is awarded to the fit parent?
To prevent further harm to a child, the court may deny the visitation rights of an abuser. However, if the court is confident that imposing visitation conditions, such as having a state representative present at the time of the visit, will protect the safety of the child and still allow parent-child interaction, the abuser may still be able to see his or her child. Nevertheless, court restrictions are more stringent for more serious cases of abuse. In instances of domestic violence, the abuser may not be awarded any visitation privileges.
What evidence of abuse can be presented during a custody hearing?
Eye witness reports of harmful acts can be used as evidence in a custody hearing. These reports can come from anyone who witnessed an abusive act or signs of abuse, such as family members, physicians, teachers or neighbors.
In addition, medical documentation of the physical and emotional state of the child can serve as evidence.
Emotional abuse may be evidenced by chronic bed wetting or changes in the child's behavior and speech.
If you are the fit parent of an abused child, you may be seeking full custody of your little one. Contact a custody lawyer like Timothy L Hitchings today to help ensure that your child remains protected from abuse.