Parents constantly worry about their children. The problem is magnified when the threat of harm to the children comes from your ex (or biological parent) as like you, they too have a fundamental right to raise their children. However, courts treat abuse—particularly physical abuse very seriously— as they are charged with always looking out for the children’s best interests. This blog covers legal tools you may engage to obtain “protection” for you children to key evidence you may need to make your case.
Depending on if your divorce case is filed (or paternity has been established), you have different remedies. Perhaps the most known is a protective order under the Indiana Civil Protective Order Act (ICPOA). This can remove a parent from the household and, after hearing, disqualify him or her from possessing firearms until the order expires. These are tools for acute dangerous situations but may not be available to you depending upon the narrowness of the act. In cases of domestic violence, a call to 911 and or escape with the children may be your only remedy until you speak with counsel.
For longer-term solutions, your attorney may file a motion for you seeking supervised visitation. The courts will grant this and have the authority to do so if the parent poses a serious risk of physical or mental harm to the children. However, the courts ordinarily limit this in time and duration, and this may not get to the root cause of emotional or physical abuse. In these cases, or in conjunction with a protective order or request for supervised visitation, it is often wise to ask the court to appoint a custody evaluator or guardian ad litem to assist with looking at all the past actions and make recommendations to the court for how to protect the children. These are but a few of the legal remedies that may be available to you to assist when your children are in danger and are used daily by family law attorneys.
Ultimately, you may wind up in court sooner versus later and the other spouse may try to turn the tables or minimize the situation. This is where you need evidence. In many cases, the key evidence as to emotional or physical harm are the following:
- Police reports or convictions.
- Voice mails.
- Witness accounts.
This is where your attorney is worth his or her weight in proverbial gold as each of these pieces of evidence is subject to evidentiary requirements to use in court. If you do not meet them, the court may not allow them into the evidence. So careful preparation of your case (whether this is heard in a divorce court, protective order court, or paternity court) is key to prevailing and protecting your children.
It is important as a citizen and engaged parent to understand that you have many legal rights to protect your children from physical or emotional harm by their other parent. This is the work-life of attorneys and judges. Is this your case? This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle domestic cases of all types throughout Indiana. It is written for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.