Even after parents have finalized their divorce and settled on a court-ordered custody arrangement, concerns can linger. Parents often get divorced because of significant differences of opinion regarding appropriate parenting methods, and these differences do not simply go away once parents are no longer living in the same home. Often, parenting styles simply come down to differences in character or preference; one parent may view the other as irresponsible, uncooperative, or frustrating, but as long as the children are cared for and safe, these differences are mostly harmless.
Sometimes, however, parental behavior crosses a line into abuse. Because you are not in the home with the other parent, and because children cannot always clearly communicate what is happening, it can be difficult to know whether your child is at risk of being abused. But if you have concerns about their safety or wellbeing, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Signs of Child Abuse at a Co-Parent’s Home
Children handle abuse differently and sometimes the classic symptoms of abuse may not be present. However, some signs that a child may be being abused include:
- When it is time to visit the other parent, a child seems frightened and unwilling to go
- A child runs away from the other parent’s home
- A child begins exhibiting uncharacteristic behavior at school, such as skipping school, angry outbursts, or hyperactivity
- A child seems to be left without appropriate supervision when at the other parent’s home
- A child has unexplained bruises or injuries
- A previously happy and communicative child becomes sullen and mute without explanation
Many of these symptoms may be a result of a child struggling to deal with divorce or unrelated social issues, so it is essential to maintain good communication with your child and try to understand what is bothering them.
It is also important to note that child abuse can come in many forms. In addition to commonly known forms of abuse, such as physical and sexual abuse, children may also suffer from emotional abuse, medical abuse, or neglect at the hands of a parent.
What Can I Do if I Suspect Child Abuse?
If you are afraid that your child is in immediate danger, call the police. You can also make a report directly to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Begin collecting proof of possible abuse whenever possible. This includes descriptions, dates, quotes from a child, photos, and medical reports. Try not to ask your child leading questions; instead, allow them to provide information in their own words. An attorney with experience in child custody modifications can help you collect evidence and explore options for going to court and requesting a modification of your parenting agreement if necessary.
Call a Wheaton, IL Child Custody Lawyer
At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we understand that your first instinct as a parent is to protect your children from harm. We will take your concerns seriously and, if necessary, help you take steps to keep your children safe. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free case review with one of our experienced Wheaton, IL child custody attorneys and learn more about your options.