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How to keep children safe from abuse

As part of a North Carolina child custody proceeding, a parent may allege that a son or daughter’s safety is in peril while with the other parent. Upon hearing the allegation, a judge might take a series of steps to determine the validity of the claim. As part of the investigation, local authorities will likely contact a child’s teachers, neighbors and others who interact with that child.

Parents are encouraged to present as much evidence as possible to verify their claims. For example, they could introduce text messages or other digital messages that contain abusive or threatening language. They can also submit witness statements or ask that witnesses testify in court about a former romantic partner’s actions. Medical records might prove that a child has undergone emotional, physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a parent.

A child could be asked to speak with a therapist or other mental health professional as part of an investigation into abuse claims. The professional will likely make his or her notes available for the court to review when making its ruling. A noncustodial parent might be limited to supervised visitation with his or her child while an abuse investigation is ongoing. It may also be possible to file for a restraining order to temporarily keep a parent away from a child.

The best interests of the child generally take precedent over the needs or wishes of the parent in a child custody case. Therefore, if a child is being threatened by a parent, that person is unlikely to receive custody or visitation rights. A parent may want to work with an attorney to pursue a protective order or to otherwise deny a potentially abusive individual from having access to a child.