Typically, family court judges want children to maintain a relationship with both of their parents after they separate or divorce, even if one parent is granted primary custody. Of course, if a parent is a danger emotionally and/or physically to the kids, that’s another matter.
A parent doesn’t have to be physically abusive to threaten their children’s safety. If they have substance abuse issues, for example, they may neglect their kids’ care and well-being. They may expose them to substances and people that could harm them.
Judges take parents’ concerns about their kids’ safety around their co-parent seriously. It’s essential not to make accusations out of anger or spite. This can only hurt your kids and potentially your own custody rights.
However, if you have legitimate concerns about your children’s safety and well-being when they’re with their other parent, you need to raise those concerns in court. The judge will likely order an investigation by child protective services professionals and talk with other adults in your kids’ lives, like family members, teachers and neighbors. They may talk with the kids themselves.
You can bolster your case by providing evidence of physical or emotional abuse. Medical records and police reports can be helpful. So can texts, emails and other communications.
If your kids are being treated by a therapist, they can provide testimony and treatment records to the court. A judge may ask an impartial therapist to talk with your kids and present their opinion. The accused co-parent may be allowed only supervised visitation while this investigation plays out.
If you believe that you and/or your children are in imminent danger, it’s imperative that you seek a protective order and take whatever additional steps may be necessary to keep your co-parent away and keep everyone safe. These orders aren’t 100% effective, of course. However, if your co-parent defies the order, they can be in legal jeopardy.
If you have concerns that your co-parent’s unsupervised access to your kids will be harmful to them, your best first step is to talk with your attorney. They can advise you regarding how to build a case that will help you prevent your children from suffering neglect or harm.