You will always be tied to your former spouse through your children, and this is sometimes a difficult relationship to manage. Sharing time with your children with your former spouse when you don’t trust or have faith in that former spouse is a challenge for most people, but what should you do if you suspect your child is being abused or neglected while in the care of the other parent?
The child comes first.
This is about the child, not you. Keep this standard in mind as you move through the process. Clearly, there are instances that leave no doubt whether or not your child has been abused. When that is the case, take immediate action to protect your child. Call your lawyer and report the abuse to the authorities.
However, if you suspect abuse or neglect ask yourself why. What are the signs you think point to abuse or neglect? Has the child been harmed or is it merely a situation in which you do not agree with your former spouse’s parenting approach? Are your suspicions based on protecting your child or in hurting your former spouse? Reasonableness in your response is the key. Determining what is reasonable depends on the circumstances, which are varied. Factors like the age of the child, the nature and extent of suspected abuse, and the child’s ability to talk to you about it all play a role. With these variables in play, there is no one suggestion that applies to every situation.
When, after carefully considering the reasonableness of your suspicions, and the best interests of your child, it may be time to take action. DEPENDING ON THE NATURE of the abuse, it may be appropriate to do one or more of the following:
- Contact your divorce lawyer
- Speak to the other parent
- Speak to others who may have been present when the alleged abuse occurred
- Consider your child’s report of abuse in all of its aspects
- Contact your child’s pediatrician
- Contact your child’s guidance counselor
- Contact your child’s therapist (if any)
- Contact the police
- Contact social services
A child’s well-being comes first, but in the divorce arena, an allegation of abuse is too often used to gain an advantage. Sadly, when unfounded, such an allegation creates suspicion that is difficult to overcome. There are many nuances to decision making regarding this type of allegation in the context of a divorce case.
No one answer fits all, but if you suspect your child is being abused or neglected you should seek the advice of your attorney early in the decision making process. Contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-575-0381.
ABOUT LINDA SORG OSTOVITZ
Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.
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