Are You Worried That Your Kids Are Not Safe With Your Ex?
You’ve gotten through a tough divorce, but the hard times are not behind you. That’s because you have been ordered by the court to share your children with their other parent—someone you believe is unfit for the job. Every time your kids head over there, you worry until you’re absolutely frazzled. What can you do to keep your children safe?
Reporting the Abuse
If you really are certain that the kids are at risk, you are obligated to act. First of all, consult with your Springfield family law attorney about how to proceed. Then it may be time to get the Department of Social Services (DSS) involved. Here’s what you can expect:
The DSS must investigate any reports made, with an eye toward verifying the claims and ensuring children are safe. They generally work in tandem with local police and various other agencies as they see fit. A proper report that can be investigated must meet the following criteria:
- Children must be minors under age 18;
- The perpetrator of the abuse or neglect must have custody or care of the children;
- Legal definitions of abuse/neglect must be adhered to.
What Constitutes Abuse or Neglect in a Legal Sense?
Just because you don’t like your ex, or because they handle certain things differently than you do, it doesn’t make them guilty of abuse or neglect. Claims must meet certain legal definitions in order to meet the criteria necessary for DSS intervention:
- Abuse is defined as emotional, sexual, or physical harm intentionally inflicted on the children.
- Neglect is the failure to deliver education, support, medical, or nutritional care to the children.
Assessing the Situation
DSS will conduct an official assessment of the family environment in hopes of providing assistance that will ensure the children have access to the nurturing and care they deserve. This can take place in one of three ways:
- DSS and law enforcement may investigate allegations by conducting interviews of the children, teachers, and others when serious allegations are made against a specific individual and a decision must be made as to whether that individual should be put on the Central Registry;
- When allegations include only moderate or mild issues, such as, perhaps the neglect of educational needs, a family assessment will be conducted, wherein problematic issues are identified and services to assist are offered on a voluntary basis.
- A Newborn Crisis Assessment will be conducted in situations where the safety of infants is in question due to the caregiver’s incapacity or the potential exposure to drugs or other hazardous materials.
Protecting the Precious
If the safety of your children is at risk, there is no time to lose. Contact the diligent family law attorneys at the Springfield office of Courtney & Mills for immediate action. The outcome could mean changes to custody and visitation requirements that are currently in place.