What You Should Know About Child Abuse
Child abuse can be an issue in child custody cases. When fighting for child custody, which spouse wins typically depends on factors that the courts weigh heavily in a case. In past years, courts generally awarded custody to mothers. Back then, mothers were not in the workforce and were stay-at-home moms. But times have changed. Now courts rule based on the best interest of the child. Both fathers and mothers should have equal chances for obtaining custody. Even so, certain matters are not in a child’s best interests. When courts contemplate the pros and cons, child abuse weighs heavily against a parent who engages in it.
How Does Child Abuse Affect Custody Cases?
In Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services has the authority to initiate legal proceedings to protect children who are victims of child abuse. In a divorce case, child abuse definitely tips the scale in favor of the parent who is not abusive.
What Are Some Signs of Physical Child Abuse?
Child abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Signs of physical injury often indicate physical abuse.
When frequent, any of the following injuries or child behavior can be a sign that a child is being abused:
- Bruises, cuts, black eyes or inexplicable burns
- Complaints about pain when no obvious injury occurred
- Lack of reaction to pain
- Aggressive or destructive behavior
- Withdrawn, passive behavior that lacks emotion
- Fear of going home or seeing parents
- Wearing inappropriate clothing in an attempt to hide injuries
- Injuries that pop up after not seeing the child for a few days
Emotional abuse occurs whenever a parent either through words or negative emotions damages a child’s self-esteem or emotional wellbeing. The abuse can manifest verbally, by continually belittling or through extreme forms of punishments, such as continuous angry scolding or by frequently isolating, rejecting or ignoring a child. Confining a child in a dark closet would be an extreme form of punishment. Signs of emotional abuse may manifest in the child as:
- Over compliance
- Low self-esteem
- Severe aggression, anxiety or depression
- Difficulty socializing with other children
- Lagging in physical, emotional and intellectual development
Sexual abuse is also a form of child abuse. It would involve having any sexual activity with a child. Examples include exposure to pornography, sexual exploitation, intercourse, fondling, or physical contact with the genital area.
Signs of sexual abuse are often visible as:
- Physical injury to the genital area
- Pregnancy in a young girl
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Extreme fear of being alone with adults of a particular sex
- Sexual comments that the child makes
- Knowledge of sexual relations beyond what is expected for their age
Seek Legal Help
If you’re going through divorce and suspect your spouse or partner has abused your child, this is something you should definitely bring up and discuss with your lawyer.
Our attorneys at Richardson Brown Law offer compassionate legal counsel and hold your private matters in the strictest of confidence. We also have extensive experience helping clients handle all types of divorce issues.