Response of the Court to Child Abuse Allegations

The management of a court case will be affected and adjusted by allegations of child abuse. The court is required to take immediate action whenever there are child abuse allegations.

Child abuse allegations change the family law court proceedings.  The normal processes of the court give way in order to make an immediate response or action to the child abuse allegations. 

Child abuse

There are many ways by which a child can be abused. There is direct physical contact wherein the child may suffer injuries.

Another type of abuse against a child is sexual abuse that includes sexual assault, involving the child in sexual acts and using them as sexual objects.

A child is also abused if he is subjected to psychological harm such as if he is mentally or emotionally tortured. Examples of psychological abuse are humiliating a child, making a child feel unworthy, calling a child names, and generally making a child feel unloved. It is also psychological abuse if a child is exposed to family violence like when he sees or hears family members being abused.

Seriously neglecting any aspect of the child’s care, welfare and development may constitute child abuse. It is not just physical neglect. Examples of neglect are wilful refusal to financially support a child or disregarding the safety of the child.

Adjustments made by the court

An effect of child abuse allegations is exempting the parties from undergoing a family dispute resolution. The concerned party can immediately go to court and ask for parenting orders without having to submit a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner. However, the court will still determine the veracity of the allegations.

The parenting proceedings will be suspended or held in abeyance because the safety of the child will be given priority.  The court can make arrangements that will protect the child from abuse or at least remove the child from risk. Supervised time with the child is an example of an arrangement that can be made in view of the child abuse allegations. Interim orders for the protection of the child will be issued by the court pending the main case.

There are times when there are conflicting versions in the case. While one party is alleging child abuse the other party is vehemently denying it. To ferret out the truth the court may appoint an independent children’s lawyer or an expert to conduct an investigation. Thus, the court will not yet issue a parenting order but will wait for the report from the lawyer or the expert.

Primary consideration

The primary consideration of the court is the best interest of the child. The court will never endanger a child because of a parent’s demand for custody or time spent with the child. Reports of expert witnesses are especially helpful to the courts in making parenting arrangements that are to the child’s best interests.