Divorce Doesn't Have to Destroy Your Kids - Guidelines For Divorcing and Divorced Parents
When you need to Protect your Children from a Parent after a Divorce
It can be difficult to decide to get a divorce when you are afraid of what will be going on with your children when they are out of your sight. Sometimes it is unfounded fear that has to do with control issues. Other times though it has to do with the history of the other parent that has lead up to the divorce.
If a parent has problems with alcohol or drug abuse the children may be in danger. There is enough evidence to suggest that the behaviors of such individuals are often unpredictable. A history of violent behavior is another reason to try to keep the children from being alone with that parent. Even if the children were never physically harmed, they may have witnessed such behavior or been emotionally abused.
Sexual abuse is a complaint that can come up as well. This is even harder to prove as many parents claim it as a ploy to prevent children from leaving. It has been proven false in enough cases to make judges weary. Yet sexual abuse on children at the hands of their own parents does happen. Make sure you follow the legal advice of your attorney if you have such claims to bring up in order to protect your children from further abuse.
It is very important that you have as much information documented as you can. While you don't necessary want to drag your spouse through the mud you have every right to protect your children. You may have documents on file with the local police department. Yet many people don't report such incidents and so they may not be there.
Document witnesses though that may have seen what was taking place. Neighbors may have seen arguments, friends may have seen bruises, and your doctor may have information on file as well. Keep in mind that the courts may view a great deal of the information like this you bring in as hearsay but do what you can to get them to see the relevance of it.
If nothing else they may order an evaluation of both parents. This way they can get an expert opinion about the mental well being of the individuals. These assessments are in place to look for patterns of behavior that may not be good for children to be exposed to. The court is often in a difficult position though. On one hand they don't want to prevent children from seeing a parent due to the stories of the other. However, they definitely don't want to place children into the hands of a person who is going to cause them harm.
The court may rule that there isn't enough evidence to prove the parent shouldn't be alone with the children. They may decide that parenting classes as well as anger management or drug/alcohol treatment must be completed before they can be alone with the children. The court also has the right to initiate only supervised visitations for that parent.
If you feel your children are in danger at the hands of the other parent though you need to speak up. We read too many cases these days of children being abused, neglected, and even killed at the hands of a parent. It is your right and your duty as their parent to do all you can to get the facts out there and to protect them from any such harm.
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