Child abuse can be difficult to define, with each state having abuse laws that outline what is considered to be abuse in the state. To prove child abuse, you will need to be aware of how it is defined in your home state, or in the state that has jurisdiction.
Types of Child Abuse
There are four main types of child abuse. These are:
Emotional Abuse: This is the most common type of child abuse, and it can take several forms. Emotional abuse could involve rejection, aggressive parenting styles, abandonment, or verbal attacks.
Physical Abuse: Anything that is done to deliberately cause any kind of physical pain to a child is classed as physical abuse and is against the law. This could involve slapping, hitting, spanking, punching, or physically harming the child in any other way. It is covered under the same laws that govern domestic abuse and is the easiest form of abuse to prove in court.
Neglect: Neglect is a range of conditions where the child’s parent or caregiver does not adequately provide for their needs. In court this is viewed as a failure to provide for the child’s basic needs; however, any kind of child abuse could be classed as neglect in some way. For example, physical and emotional abuse is neglecting to provide the child with a safe environment to grow up in.
Sexual Abuse:It is considered to be abusive if an adult or even another child exposes the minor to unsuitable sexual material or engages in sexual contact with them. You can read more here about getting legal help with a minor sexual abuse case.
Proving Child Abuse in Court
Documenting everything is the first step to take when it comes to proving child abuse in court. Each time you see any signs that might point to abuse, such as physical marks or bruises, or behaviors from your child that you feel signifies something problematic is happening, take photos and videos and write it down. If you see a doctor with your child as a result, they should be made aware of your evidence. It is also important to work with an attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and ready to fight to protect your child and prove abuse.
If you feel that your child might be in an emergency situation or at risk of being harmed right now, this is viewed as ‘imminent danger’ by the court. For example, if you have custody or visitation of your child on the weekend and they have shown up with signs of physical abuse that you believe to have occurred at the other parent’s home, your child will be viewed as being in imminent danger of being harmed again once they return home.
In this situation, you will need an attorney to fight your case and advocate for you and your child by filing an emergency petition to the courts for an immediate custody change. There are several things that you can do to make this happen including providing supporting evidence such as a doctor’s report, photographic evidence, and statements.
Jeopardy refers to a situation that is different from imminent danger, as there is a possibility, rather than a high likelihood of some form of abuse occurring. For example, it may be considered to be jeopardy if the child has not been abused yet but is in a situation that might lead to them being abused, such as living with a parent who is dating a person who has been previously convicted of domestic abuse or child abuse. In this situation, it’s important to keep records and document everything and gather as much evidence as possible to prove that your child is in jeopardy of being harmed.
Proving Yourself Fit to Parent
If you are a divorced parent, then proving yourself to be ‘fit’ to raise your child is something that you’ll need to be more aware of in comparison to the situation that married parents find themselves in. Thankfully there are several things that you can do to prove yourself ‘fit’ and reduce the chance of having your relationship with your child interfered with by the Family Court during a divorce, especially if you believe that your child is at risk of abuse for any reason when with their other parent.
Take Parenting Classes
Some jurisdictions will require parents to take parenting classes during a divorce while others do not. Whether or not it is required of you, it’s a good idea to take one.
Have a Steady Job
If you’re not in work at the moment, getting a stable job will help with proving yourself fit as a parent. Courts will be reluctant to give you custody if you are unable to provide financially for your child.
Provide a Stable Environment
A stable, healthy environment at home and suitable living conditions for your child will go a long way in proving yourself to be the most fit parent for custody.
It’s never nice to suspect that your child might be being abused, especially in the other parental home. Knowing what to look out for and how to document it will help you prove the abuse and get the support your child needs.