Westborough Child Abuse Lawyers
Abuse of any kind can leave a lasting and devastating impact on a family. When a child experiences this abuse, the gravity of these actions can be all the more egregious. Our Westborough child abuse lawyers can help impacted families seek legal protection in civil courts from the party or parties responsible. Because our attorneys have over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, we understand how sensitive these matters can be. If you believe that your child is suffering mistreatment from their other parent or the other parent’s partner or family, we can help you take legal action.
Unfortunately, we also see cases where a parent gets wrongfully accused of abuse by their ex-spouse. We commonly see this in contentious divorces or custody cases where there is a lot of dispute over issues such as custody and child support. If you are facing allegations of household abuse, our skilled attorneys can become your advocates and fight for your parental rights.
Kinds of Child Abuse
Child abuse can take various forms, some of which are more nuanced than others. Neglect of a child is when a caretaker is not ensuring the child has the basic necessities he or she needs. If a parent or guardian neglects their duty to adequately care for their child, such as by providing food or clothing, that may be a reason for the court to change custody in your case.
No abuse is good, but sexual abuse of a child is something that is unconscionable. There are times where this type of abuse is apparent. There are other times, however, that an allegation of sexual abuse cannot be easily proven, as most sexual abuse is not done out in the open. Because of that, these types of allegations create incredibly difficult cases when dealing with parents who have a history of parental alienation or false allegations made in the past.
Physical abuse is usually more evident as there are often marks left. Yet, even physical abuse can be difficult to navigate. There may be cases where a child has been abused, yet the court continues to try to allow the parent to have a relationship with the child in a safe manner. That can be incredibly frustrating for a parent who has seen their child get hurt, and then feels like they are just “waiting” for it to happen again for the court to take any drastic measures. A recent and horrible example is the New York case where a mother sought the children be returned to her alleging that her children were coming to her physically harmed and neglected. The father was a NY police officer, and the Judge denied her request. This, tragically, led to the death of their 8-year old boy who was being beaten by his father and made to sleep in the non-heated garage where he essentially froze to death.
It can also be incredibly frustrating for a parent who is accused of physical abuse of a child, but it has to do more with one parent’s allegations that have grown out of something that was not a big deal. For instance, a child was play wrestling with his father outside, but suddenly the father was served with an emergency motion to terminate his parenting time with the accusation from the other parent that he was beating the child as a punishment.
Because there is so much he-said, she-said in family court, these cases are always difficult and almost always highly contentious. When a family has a history of parental alienation or extreme high-conflict prior to these types of allegations being made, it can be even more difficult for everyone to navigate through. These types of allegations are always serious though, and if a parent is found to be making false allegations, they can face strict penalties in court.
The damage inflicted by emotional abuse is often the least obvious, but can nonetheless result in lifelong psychological harm to a child. Some examples of emotional abuse may include recurrent episodes of screaming, intimidation, threats, humiliation, domestic violence being committed in front of a child, or forcing a child to watch sexual activities. Our Westborough attorney can help a concerned co-parent take the legal measures necessary to protect their child if they suspect that any of these forms of abuse or neglect are taking place.
Recognizing Potential Signs of Child Neglect in Westborough
Given the wide-ranging types of child neglect and abuse, it is essential to understand the various signs or behaviors a child may exhibit that signal when something is wrong. Some common signs that may demonstrate that a child is suffering from abuse include:
- Lack of self-confidence or expressions of being worthless
- Increased aggression
- Bruises or marks on their body
- Lack of energy or becoming introverted when they used to be more social
- Exhibiting fear or unease around certain adults
- May take on an adult-role to protect siblings
- May revert to infantile actions (tantrums, thumb-sucking, etc.)
- If older, may turn to drugs or alcohol
A parent may be able to detect physical abuse by signs such as unexplained injuries, lacerations, or burns. If your ex-partner tries to cover up the fact that your child is injured or waits to get the necessary treatment could potentially be trying to hide signs of abuse or neglect.
The signs of emotional abuse can often be the most difficult to detect. A child who is socially withdrawn, refuses to eat, suddenly loses or gains a significant amount of weight, seems impassive, or depressed may be experiencing mistreatment from an ex-partner.
The Impact of Child Abuse on Custody Decisions
In domestic violence, divorce, and other family law proceedings, the question of whether one or both parents will maintain custody of their children is a key concern. If a parent accuses the other of abusing their child, the court would need to determine the veracity of these allegations based on evidence presented by both parties.
The court has the right to strip an abusive parent of all custodial or visitation rights if the mistreatment was significant and ongoing. For example, if an abusive parent is found guilty of inflicting severe physical injury upon their child, this could lead the court to abolish the party’s parental rights. In some instances where the abuse was isolated or minor, the court may grant visitation rights to the offending parent. To make this decision, the court looks at whether allowing custodial or visitation rights to the accused parent is in the child’s best interests.
If the judge decides to award visitation rights to the offending parent, they may place specific limitations on this person’s ability to see their child and co-parent. For instance, the court may require that any visitation time between the offending parent and the child be fully supervised or bar any overnight stays.
If a parent constantly makes allegations of abuse against the other parent, which a court finds to be false or overexaggerated, it is possible for that parent to lose custody of the child. If you are making allegations or being accused of any type of child endangerment, it is very important to have legal guidance to help you through your case. Because there is a lot at stake if you are accused of child abuse or neglect, we strongly encourage you to retain our Westborough attorneys who can provide in-depth guidance and prepare a case in your defense.
Speak with Our Westborough Child Abuse Attorney
If your parental rights and your child’s safety are at risk, do not hesitate to reach out to our dedicated and caring attorneys at O’Connor Family Law. Our Westborough child abuse lawyers can help offer you guidance and advocacy during a time of uncertainty. To discuss your legal options, contact our firm today.