What to Do If Your Child is Being Abused
If you believe that your child has been a victim of child abuse, child neglect and/or child endangerment, getting him or her to safety is critical. It could mean the difference between life and death. In Utah, you can request a Protective Order by email. Minors who are between the ages of 16 and 18 are welcome to request protection on their own.
Documents Needed for Filing a Protective Order
- Your Request or Petition for a Protective Order or Request for a Civil Stalking Injunction. You can obtain these documents using the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) or any of the various self-help forms available on our website.
- Your Service Assistance Form
- Anything that is related to your case such as police and medical reports, snapshots or forwards of text messages, pictures of the evidence, etc.
If your child’s abuser lives in the same home with you and your child, the first thing you need to do is form an escape plan.
- If you have already filed a Protective Order, make several copies of it, and give one to each person your situation could affect. They could include your family members or friends, your child’s school, daycare facility, etc. Have a code word to use with your child, your family members or friends, your child’s school, or daycare facility. Ask them to call 911 if they see your child’s abuser approaching the building.
- Make an emergency bag for you and your child. Hide it someplace your child’s abuser does not use or would not likely think to look. If that is not possible, keep it at a friend’s or family member’s home. Be sure to include your Protection Order and other important documents, such as your driver’s license and insurance cards. Also include extra copies of any keys that you have. Include extra clothes, toiletries, and any needed medications. If your child is an infant, include diapers, a breast pump and formula.
- Go over the escape route with your child.
- If you can, get any guns and other weapons out of your home.
- If your child’s abuser does not live in the same home as you and your child, change your locks or install locks on all your doors and windows. If you can afford to, invest in a metal door, a security camera and outside lighting.
When your child’s abuser attacks your child again…
- Try to distract the abuser so that you can grab your child and leave. The timing does not matter.
- Try to keep the abuser away from the kitchen, bathroom, and any place else that could easily be used as a weapon. Keep your child close to a door or window if possible. Teach your child ahead of time that if he or she happens to get out before you to run and scream for help. Also, teach him or her your home address, how to dial 911 and what to tell the dispatcher.
- Once both of you are able to get away, get to a friend or a family member’s home. If neither is an option for you, get to a nearby shelter. The Utah Domestic Violence Council Line is 800-897-5465 or you can access a list of domestic violence shelters on the Coalition’s website.
If your child’s abuser violates your Protective Order…
Call 911 immediately and make a report each time. When a police officer shows up, ask for the case number and prosecution referral. Even if your child’s abuser does not get arrested, this could become important if he she is arrested at some point.
Once you and your child are away from the abuser…
- You and your child will need to give an official statement of the incident and whether there were any other witnesses.
- You will need to have photos taken of your child’s injuries and any that you have sustained.
- Refer your case to the prosecution even if it does not appear that your child’s abuser will be taken into custody at that moment.
- Child Abuse Allegation During a Divorce
When a parent files for divorce, Utah law automatically prohibits both parents from committing any acts of child abuse, harassment, or intimidation, and both parents are assumed to be fit and have rights to visitation, unless there is evidence that a child is in danger of harm while they are in the care of one of the parents.
If a parent believes that their child is being abused by the other parent, they can file a petition for temporary relief that asks to limit the other parent’s visitation with their children. If a parent believes that their children are in immediate danger, they can ask the court to issue a temporary restraining order that addresses the perceived danger until the custody hearing takes place. This order may ask to restrict a parent’s unsupervised visitation or place a no contact order on the parent.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Firm in Ogden
In cases involving allegations of child abuse, it is important for the court to appoint experts, obtain their opinions, and resolve the accusations as quickly as possible. Delays in reaching a resolution will increase the likelihood of the denial of justice for both abused individuals and the victims of false allegations.
If you feel you or your child are in immediate danger, CALL 911! If you are involved in a child custody dispute involving allegations of child abuse, you need a skilled, dedicated attorney who will protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your children’s best interests in court. Contact the Ogden Utah divorce attorneys of Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman today at 801-752-0499 to schedule a free consultation.