Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Child Abuse and Parenting Plans

I recently came across this sad story from NPR regarding child abuse and mistreatment.

I would venture to say that a lot of child abuse goes unreported. Within the family law realm, child abuse and neglect is relevant in the context of developing a parenting plan. The court may impose restrictions on a party’s residential time and decision making authority for certain conduct, including  “physical, sexual, or a pattern of emotional abuse of a child” or “a history of acts of domestic violence or an assault or sexual assault which causes grievous bodily harm or fear of such harm.”

In cases where child abuse, neglect, and/or domestic violence are alleged, it is best to have a guardian ad litem appointed to make recommendations to the court regarding an appropriate parenting plan. The guardian ad litem must make recommendations based on the best interests of the child, and the recommendations are made after an investigation. During the investigation, the guardian ad litem will interview parties and collateral contacts, review documents such as Child Protective Services Reports and Police Reports, visit with the children, interview teachers, principals, and counselors. Based on their investigation, the guardian ad litem will make their recommendations to the court. The judge may adopt some, all, or none of the guardian ad litem’s recommendations depending on the comprehensiveness of the investigation and credibility of the guardian ad litem as a witness.

If you and your family are currently in a domestic violence and abuse situation, call 911 if there is an emergency. If you need help finding resources and domestic violence programs and services, call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline 800-562-6025 (8AM – 5PM) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 (open 24 hours).

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Rachel Luke is a attorney in the Bellevue office of Wong Fleming. Ms. Luke practices family law and represents clients on divorces, custody issues, parenting plans, child support, and more. 

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