How to Protect Your Children from an Abusive Parent During a Divorce
If you have good reason to believe your spouse is abusing your children in any way as you go through the divorce process, you must take immediate action to ensure your kids do not suffer any more. The best way to do this is by having your attorney file a motion to protect your children in some way, such as a temporary order of protection or a temporary child custody order.
To be successful with one of these motions, you and your attorney must collect and present as much evidence of the abuse as possible. This may include medical records, photos, witness statements and police reports. Having this information will significantly strengthen your position.
When there are issues relative to the children, the Court must assign the child(ren) an attorney to represent their interests known as an attorney for the child. In most incidences in Supreme Court, the Court will direct the parties to share the costs, which is normally in proportion to their incomes (although there are instances in poverty cases where the cost is not borne by the parties). During Family Court proceedings, the attorney for the child is assigned by the Court and the parties are not required to pay for same.
The following are a few examples of steps you can take to protect your children during a troubling time:
- Request that all visits from that parent be supervised by a relative or neutral party chosen by the court
- Request that visits only occur in public places or supervised facilities
- Ask for a suspension of any overnight visits
- Ask for a judge to mandate counseling or treatment for your spouse if domestic violence or substance abuse is a problem
- Ask the judge to require your spouse to take parenting classes
- Seek a temporary sole custody arrangement until the judge determines a permanent arrangement
- Contact child protective services or the police if there is an emergency situation
- Get your children examined by a doctor and obtain copies of their medical records after incidents of abuse
- Thoroughly document everything, including official records, witness accounts, pictures, correspondence and anything else that could support your argument
- Have the parties and children undergo a forensic evaluation.
For further guidance on this important issue, be sure to consult a knowledgeable and compassionate divorce attorney with Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP as soon as possible.