How child abuse and neglect affect child custody

Children are the most important asset of parents, they work day and night to provide for them and to give them a successful and comfortable life that waits ahead of them. However, unfortunately this is not the case in every household, children are a subject of abuse and neglect intentionally or unintentionally but it does affect the child as well as the relationship of parents with each other. Abuse and neglect are two very important issues that need to be catered under any circumstances and if the neglect and abuse are a part of your household and you plan on getting a divorce from your spouse then there are certain parameters which require your consideration.

Child abuse is the number one reason for you to lose the case and custody both. Especially a parent knows about the abuse and still does not report it to the authorities. You both might lose custody this way and the child would be removed from your home and will be transferred to the social services under foster care.

If a judge determines that the abuse can take place again in future, he can rightfully terminate the abuse parent’s rights off of the child or even cutting off the parent-child relationship completely.

In less severe cases of abuse, a judge may restrict the abusive parent’s relationship with the child. Restrictions may include limited visitation or supervised visits. Specifically, a judge can:

  • Reduce a parent’s visitation hours
  • Prevent overnight visits, and
  • Require supervised visitation, where a third-party supervises all of the parent’s visits with the child.

If you have real concerns about ongoing child abuse, you should immediately report it to not only make a stronger case for yourself but to save the child as well. 

How do I prove that my child has been abused?

If you are alleging that your child has been abused by your ex-spouse/partner then you might need more than circumstantial evidence. Relatives, neighbors, friends and others who have witnessed the abuse can testify at the court hearing. Moreover, test reports and medical records from your child’s therapists and doctors are often used at trials. One of the important evidences that you can use is that if your spouse has a history of abuse to you or the child’s siblings, if you are able to prove that in court through medical transcripts and witnesses, then it definitely is a win win situation for you.

A custody evaluator can be helpful in cases where abuse is difficult to prove, or where you need help gathering evidence. A custody evaluator will take the lead in interviewing family members and therapists to prepare custody recommendations for a judge. There must be clear and convincing evidence of abuse for a court to limit a parent’s time with a child. A judge doesn’t have to follow a custody evaluator’s recommendation, but it’s usually persuasive, especially in parental abuse cases.

The following signs may help you identify if your child is going through abuse or not.

  • Sudden changes in school performance and behavior.
  • Comes to school early and does not want to go back home early.
  • Does not report or mention any arguments or scars.
  • Wants to be left alone all the time.
  • Does not talk much in front of the abusive parent.
  • Has learning or concentrating problems.

Let us now look at the signs shown by the abusive parent which makes it easier to identify if the parent is abusive.

  • Shows little or no concern for the child whatsoever.
  • Denies the existence of the child during problems.
  • Blames the child for school and academic problems.
  • Advises to use physical punishment at school if the child does not perform.
  • Demands a level of physical or academic excellence that the child cannot achieve.
  • Both parent and child do not like each other and cannot stand the sight of each other for a very long time.
  • The parent is always complaining and comparing the child to other children.

If any of these signs are observed while being with the child or the parent, there are high chances of abuse going on and there is nothing the ex-spouse can do about it to prevent the cancellation of custody or visitation rights being terminated.

It is almost impossible to get the custody of your child if proven guilty of the abuse and neglect. The court would not consider your appeal at that time but will either terminate the custody right there or would ask you to go through a very long procedure to ask for custody or visitation again.



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