On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday July 12th, 2021.
Separation or divorce from a spouse or partner is never easy, especially when there are children involved. You will want to maintain as civil a relationship with your ex as possible. However, what should you do if you are concerned your ex is neglecting or abusing your children? Here are some tips you need to follow before you call child protection.
Think Before You Call
First, you need to make sure that you separate the grievances you have with your ex from any perceived problems your children are experiencing. Even if you can’t stand the sight of your ex, your children most likely don’t feel the same way. Your parenting style and their parenting style may not be the same either. Your kids may come back to your house after a weekend visitation and tell you that your ex let them eat ice cream for breakfast–although it’s not what you would do, it also isn’t really causing your kids any harm.
There are warning signs you can look for if you suspect your ex is neglecting your children while they are with them. If you have concerns, begin keeping a record of events. For example, if your child comes back home dirty, unkempt, and in the same clothes you sent them in, you need to make a note of it. Children who are neglected often go without food as well, or they are left unattended for long periods of time when they are not old enough to care for themselves. Write down all the information your children tell you, so that you can go to police or child protection services if you need to.
Neglect is a far different problem than abuse is. If your children come home with bruises, cuts, or burns that cannot be explained, you may need to take additional action, especially if this occurs each time your child visits your ex. You need to take into consideration normal childhood bumps and bruises. Children get hurt all the time, because they are so active. However, if there is a pattern of “accidents”, or if you child tells you the “accident” occurred because the other parent was angry, you may need to make some phone calls, especially if your child required a trip to the hospital. Of course, nearly every state, including Florida, mandates that doctors and other medical staff report any suspicion of abuse to child protection services. Once you have a list of concerns, you may need to contact a lawyer in addition to protecting your child. That way, you may be able to have visitation changed, so that your children are always under supervision.