Child Abuse

When considering child custody decisions, family courts have made it very clear that the overriding factor in all of their determinations will be what is in the best interests of the children involved. Thus, court officials take accusations of child abuse very seriously. Such accusations can have a profound impact on court rulings, restricting the access alleged abusers have to children in order to ensure their protection.

Child Abuse Facts

  • Defining Physical Abuse

    Ask a child custody lawyer and he or she will verify that the court considers many different forms of abuse when ruling in custody cases. The most obvious is physical abuse. This can include hitting, slapping, kicking, or forceful restraining. Spanking is a gray area that allows some room for interpretation. Almost all states allow corporal punishment as long as it is not excessive and does not cause bodily injury.

  • What is Sexual Abuse?

    Sexual abuse is another issue courts take into consideration in custody cases. Parents who have been accused or convicted of child molestation or unlawful sexual contact with minors will often see their parental rights restricted. Sexual abuse doesn’t need to involve just touching. Taking sexually explicit pictures of kids, exposing them to pornography, and performing sexual acts in front of them can also qualify as abuse.

  • Proving Emotional Abuse

    A third and more subjective area of abuse involves emotional harm to children. Specific examples include verbal assaults, neglecting children, or making them feel isolated, ignored or rejected. Parents who place too much pressure on their children to perform certain tasks or activities may also be guilty of abuse. Proving emotional abuse may be difficult, and typically will require the assistance of a mental health professional.

Penalties for False Accusations

Parents involved in custody disputes may be tempted to voice false accusations of child abuse at their former spouses in hopes of improving their chances at earning a more favorable ruling. If their accusations are proven to be untrue, they may end up damaging their own chances at earning custody. False accusations could also result with those who make them facing criminal penalties.