When a marriage ends in a divorce or separation, one of the issues the divorcing couple will have to deal with is who gets custody and who gets visitation rights. However, the outcome may not be permanent. Child custody can be modified based on a number of factors. One of these is child abuse.
Proving child abuse for the purposes of amending an existing custody order can be quite challenging, especially if there are no physical signs to indicate abuse. Broadly, any action, inaction or behavior that threatens the child’s physical and emotional welfare can qualify as child abuse. Due to the serious nature of such allegations, a parent who is seeking a custody modification on grounds of child abuse must do more than just tell the court that they suspect abuse.
Proving child abuse to the judge
The first step you need to take to prove child abuse is getting your evidence together. Each time you notice a physical bruise or a behavior that you suspect could be indicative that something unusual could be happening to the child, be sure to write it down. Some of the signs of abuse that you should consider documenting include:
- Change in behavior such as unexplained anger, hyperactivity, aggression and changes in performance at school
- Attempts to run away from home
- Sudden withdrawal
- Rebellion or defiant behaviors
- Injuries that cannot be explained or those that do not match given explanations
- Self-harm or suicidal behavior
If the injuries require a doctor’s attention, be sure to inform the doctor how the child sustained the injury in question so it can be captured in the doctor’s report.
Proving child abuse can be difficult. However, if you believe the other parent is abusing your child, it is important that you petition the court to modify the existing custody arrangement in the best interest of the child.