Two Parents Fighting Over Child In Divorce

What to Do if You Suspect Your Ex Is Putting Your Child at Risk

Brazil Clark, PLLC March 29, 2024

The safety of your child is paramount. This is a non-negotiable.

If you're reading this post, you've likely already noticed some signs that indicate your ex is putting your child at risk. You're doing the right thing by seeking knowledge and resources.

These signs may include noticeable changes in the child's behavior, unexplained injuries, or a sudden reluctance to spend time with the other parent. More severe signs could include evidence of physical or emotional abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or domestic violence. Recognizing these signs early is crucial in taking the necessary steps to ensure the child's safety.  

If you believe your ex is putting your child in danger, you have legal options. But you need to act with intent, and take the correct steps to protect them. This may include seeking a protective order or filing for full custody of your child. 

Getting the support of an attorney, such as Attorney Frank Brazil, can also help guide you through these difficult situations. He can advise you on the best course of action and help you gather evidence to support your case. Reaching out to local resources such as child protective services or counseling services can also provide valuable support and assistance.  

Legal Rights of Parents   

All parents have certain legal rights that are designed to protect the welfare of their children. These rights encompass aspects such as custody and visitation rights, the ability to make decisions about the child's upbringing and welfare, and the right to be informed about important decisions, such as those involving education, healthcare, and religion.  

However, these rights can be affected in circumstances where the other parent is jeopardizing the child's safety. In such cases, courts may impose supervised visitations, alter custody arrangements, or, in extreme situations, terminate parental rights.

As a parent, it's important for you to fully understand these rights and how they can be applied in situations where your child's safety is at stake.   

What Should You Do if You Believe Your Ex Is Hurting Your Child? 

If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect your child is being hurt by their other parent, it is imperative to take immediate action. This section will guide you through the steps you should follow to protect your child and ensure their safety.  

Gather Evidence   

To substantiate any claims about the child's welfare, it's essential to gather effective evidence. This could consist of:

  • photographs of any injuries,

  • medical records,

  • witness statements, and

  • any written communication that indicates harmful behavior by the other parent.

Collecting this evidence is a critical step in demonstrating to the court the potential risks to the child's well-being and safety.  

Report to the Authorities   

In cases where there's an immediate threat to the child's safety, reporting this risk to the appropriate authorities such as the police or child protective services is vital.

When making a report, it's important to provide as much detailed information as possible. This includes specific incidents, dates, and any gathered evidence. The primary role of these authorities is to investigate the situation and ensure the child's safety.  

Request a Restraining Order   

In situations where there's a clear and present danger to the child's safety from the other parent, seeking a restraining order may be a necessary step. A restraining order, also known as a protective order, legally bars the threatening parent from coming into close proximity with the child and, in some cases, the custodial parent.  

To obtain a restraining order, you will need to present your evidence to a judge, indicating the imminent danger to the child. The process typically begins by filing a petition at your local courthouse, after which a temporary order may be issued immediately, pending a formal hearing. It's important to understand that restraining orders are serious legal instruments and should only be pursued with the guidance of an attorney to ensure that the action is justified and the child's best interests are maintained.  

Modify the Child Custody Arrangement  

If the threat to the child's safety is ongoing and the restraining order proves insufficient, or if the situation changes necessitating a long-term solution, it may be necessary to modify the custody arrangement.

Changing child custody arrangements involves proving to the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances that affects the child's well-being.  

Evidence of harm or potential harm from the other parent will be a critical part of your case. This process can be lengthy and complex, requiring the expertise of a family law attorney. The court's primary concern is always the best interests of the child, so demonstrating that a change in custody would enhance the child's safety and welfare is key.  

Seek Legal Counsel   

Working through these situations can be complex and emotionally draining. To help you make informed decisions about your options, it's important to seek out legal counsel from a compassionate and experienced family law attorney.

An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and advise you on the best course of action. They can also assist you with effectively presenting your case in court and advocating for your child's protection.  

Coping Mechanisms and Support Systems   

Dealing with the suspicion that a child is at risk can be challenging. Therefore, it’s crucial to have coping mechanisms and support systems in place to help you manage the stress and anxiety associated with these situations: 

  • Seek Professional Counseling: Speaking with a therapist or counselor experienced in family issues can provide a safe space to express your fears and concerns. Professional counseling can offer emotional support and practical advice on how to handle the situation. 

  • Lean on Trusted Family and Friends: Share your concerns with close family members and friends who can offer emotional support, practical assistance, and possibly share similar experiences. Having a strong support network can alleviate any isolation or stress you might be experiencing. 

  • Join Support Groups: Participating in support groups, either in person or online, can connect you with other parents facing similar issues. These groups provide an opportunity to share experiences, offer and receive advice, and gain emotional support from people who have first-hand knowledge of your situation. 

  • Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about your legal rights, coping strategies, and ways to protect your child. Many non-profit organizations and legal bodies offer valuable resources and guides. 

  • Practice Self-Care: Don't forget to take care of your own health and well-being. Engage in activities that reduce stress, such as exercise, meditation, reading, or hobbies that you enjoy. Remember, maintaining your own mental and physical health is essential for being able to support and protect your child. 

Here to Help You Protect Your Children

The safety and well-being of a child should always be the top priority. By understanding the signs of risk, knowing your legal rights, gathering evidence, reporting to authorities, seeking legal counsel, and utilizing coping mechanisms and support systems, you can take the necessary steps to protect your child from potential harm.  

If you suspect your ex is putting your child at risk, reach out to Brazil Clark, PLLC for a free consultation. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the firm proudly serves clients throughout Rutherford County.