What Should You Do If Your Abuser Has Custody Of Your Kids?

Posted on: 29 May 2015

If you've recently suffered physical or mental abuse at the hands of your ex-spouse, you're probably experiencing a variety of strong emotions. And if this ex-spouse has primary (or even shared) custody of your children, you may be frantically wondering what you can do to protect them from potential abuse, and reluctant to allow them to spend even one more day with your abuser. Fortunately, there are several legal options that can help you obtain primary custody or restrict your ex-spouse's access to your children. Read on to learn more about a few things you can do in the days and weeks following this abuse.

File a police report

Even if your abuse happened a day or more ago, it's not too late to make a police report and have a formal, legal record made. Not only can filing a police report launch a criminal investigation -- perhaps culminating in charges or even jail time for your ex-spouse -- it can serve as evidence in your petition for a change of custody or your protective order application, providing you and your children with further legal protections.

File for an emergency change of custody

Although changes of custody are generally granted on the court's regular schedule (and some courts can often take weeks or months to set a hearing), each state has its own provisions for an emergency change of custody petition. Filing this petition can fast track your case to the front of the docket, and may even allow you to seek sole physical custody without providing notice (or your location) to your ex-spouse. You'll need to be able to show the timeline of abuse to the judge to demonstrate that your ex-spouse is a danger to you and your children and should not be granted legal access to your children.

If you're worried about losing child support if you cut off access to your children, you don't need to be -- child support and visitation are unrelated issues, and your ex-spouse may still be required to pay child support even if he or she is legally restricted from seeing your children.

File for a protective order

A protective order legally prohibits your ex-spouse from contacting you or approaching a certain vicinity (for example, some protective orders require the abuser to stay at least 500 feet from the victim at all times). If your children are minors, you're also able to file for a protective order on their behalf. This will provide you with a legal remedy if your abuser attempts to contact you or tries to abuse you again -- one call to the police will land your ex-spouse in jail.

The primary difference between an emergency change of custody and a protective order is the level of response to a violation. For example, if your abuser attempts to pick up your child from daycare after an emergency change of custody has been granted, the daycare workers will simply refuse to release your child; while if your abuser attempts to pick up your child after a protective order has been granted, the daycare workers will call the police.

To learn more about hiring a domestic violence attorney, visit a website like http://www.jdlarsonlaw.com