What if I think my ex is abusing my child? Can I withhold parenting time?
Couples who have had a divorce generally have a sour relationship. Although some are able to make amends for the benefit of their children, there’s no discrediting the fear that your child may not be in good hands with your ex.
A common fear that arises with regards to custody is that the co-parent is endangering the child, whether it be through neglect, abuse, or violence. In this instance, is it possible to withhold parenting time?
Judges, in general, take allegations of abuse and violence very seriously. They always make decisions leaning towards the safety and security of the child, keeping in mind his or her best interest.
Even before a judge grants custody or visitation rights, he or she would have already investigated both parents to determine who should be granted parental rights and responsibilities.
If you allege that your ex is abusing your child mentally, emotionally, or physically, the court will take these allegations seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the weight of your arguments.
The investigation may involve talking to your friends, family, relatives, neighbors, etc. If your ex has competent counsel, an interview with your child might be called for. Forensic interviews will also be conducted. And ultimately, the determination of the court will depend upon a variety of factors, such as:
- The presence of bruise marks
- Age of the child
- Maturity of the child to know what a lie is
- What you have done in this situation
Restriction of parenting time
If you have reason to believe that your ex is abusing your child, your best course of action is not to withhold parenting time, but to restrict it. You do this by filing a motion to restrict parenting time and provide proof that supports your grounds. If your motion is sufficient on its face, the judge will approve it.
The effect of your granted motion will be the restriction of parenting time, in which case there will be no unsupervised contact between your ex and your child. This will last for up to two weeks, during which a court hearing will commence. If warranted, the prosecution may issue a criminal protection order to protect you and your child during the pendency of your case.
When you file a motion to restrict parenting time or request for a protection order, you have a short time to prove your allegations. The burden of proof is on your to show wrongdoing from your ex, so ensure that you have documentation detailing the events, such as: police reports, medical records, or testimonies from people who can speak about the abuse.
Overall, an allegation of abuse is a very serious matter that the judge will take very seriously. A malicious allegation that only aims to alienate the other party will result in serious consequences. So if you were to file a motion under the grounds of abuse and violence, you need to play your cards properly. Do not take the law into your own hands.