Subscribe

Is Your Child Being Abused?

A common worry for parents often centers around protecting their child from people who prey on children.   Most children spend their days away from their parents in the care of others, in school, kindergarten, daycare and so forth.  So, what if you suddenly notice changes in your child that concern you?  Changes that appear to indicate some form of abuse is taking place?  As a divorced or separated parent, what should you do if you are worried  is your child being abused?

Handling Differences in Behavior: the Dos

If you notice a change in your child’s behavior, there are several immediate things you should do.

  • Document any repeated physical marks such as bruises, cuts, wounds, etc  and get your child medical attention.   Make a note of where your child was just prior to your noticing the injury.  Who was their caretaker?  Who else was in their presence?
    last.  Who was their caretaker?
  • If the changes are not physical in nature, but ones of withdrawal, aggression or other emotional signs, try to recall when these changes began.  Did they start with the separation or divorce?  Are they recent?  Do they appear to involve any specific person or event?  Do they line up with any specific life change (for your child or for you)? Again, document what you recall.

  • If your child is old enough, ask him/her about the injuries/changes in behavior.  Ask open ended questions and see what your child is able to tell you.  Be careful not to put words in their mouth but let them speak.  A pediatrician or therapist may help if your child seems very apprehensive or nervous, especially  a doctor that your child really likes.

  • Speak to their teachers.  They may have noticed some changes they can point out.  If there is a bully at school, it can be resolved, either by the school or a legal remedy.
  • Be patient with your child.  If there is abuse, your child will be scared.  If the abuser is a family member, your child is going to be scared that the abuser will find out that the child told and things will get worst.  Make sure your child knows that you are not going to be mad at them.
  • Promise to love your child regardless of what he or she tells you.  This is very important.  Your child may have guilt over whatever has happened because abusers are very good at instilling guilt into their victims.  “See what you made me do!” or “If I get caught, it will be your fault”, etc.
  • If the abuser is your ex-spouse or someone who has visitation rights, contact an attorney for help on protecting your child.

Handling Changes in Behavior: The Do Not’s

  • Do not jump to conclusions.  Remember that children do get injuries just from being children and playing but if you see repeated bruises or injuries that are more extreme, your child should visit a medical provider for attention.
  • Don’t promise your child that you will not tell anyone if they divulge their “secret” to you. Depending on the nature of the abuse, this may not be a promise you can keep.  You may have to involve a number of people, including the police.  The last thing you want to do is betrayed their trust.
  • Do not try to intimidate your child into telling you what is going on.  They are already dealing with fear.  This is the last thing they need right now.
  • Do not bring in other people to see how the child reacts and try to find out who harmed them.  This can do your child serious harm.
  • Do not put words in your child’s mouth.  Let them speak their mind.
  • Do not sweep this under the rug and act as if it never happened or minimize what you are seeing.  If you truly believe you see a problem, reach out to someone else for an objective opinion.  You need to get some help for your child. That is your responsibility as a parent.
  • If you find out who has abused your child, do not allow them to be alone with your child.  If it is your ex-spouse, contact an attorney and find out what you need to do to protect your child.

Be the Strength

Discovering that your child has been the victim of any type of abuse is one of the most traumatic things a parent can endure, however, the child will need you to be his or her strength and voice.  As much as it hurts, as angry as you will be, it’s critical that you document what you find and allow someone else to fight the battle for you so that you can be there for your child.

If you are concerned about your child’s visitation with someone who may be harming them, contact my office.  We will discuss your options in confidence with a free phone consultation to make sure I am the attorney for you.

Can I sign away my rights to my child?

I am asked the question, "can I sign away my rights to my child" rather often, whether it be asked by the father or the mother of a child. Here’s an example of what I see in my practice: You were in a relationship where a child was conceived and you have been...

Divorce Without Consent: Can I divorce without my spouse’s consent?

A very common question is whether you can get divorce without consent.  Of course! The old adage that you need your spouse to “give you a divorce” is no longer. You can proceed with a divorce even if the other party does not want to divorce. You don’t need a spouse’s...

Can I Keep My Home

In the first part of this series, we discussed the marital home and what happens in a divorce to that home.  Click here for our last article- What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce.  Continuing that series, we will start with the next question which involves...

Who wants a Life Estate?

I am sure that you’ve all heard the recent news that Hugh Hefner put the Playboy Mansion up for sale.  For a mere $200 mill, you can purchase the mansion and call it your own – with one catch!  Hugh will live out the remainder of his life at the mansion before you can...

Children and Divorce: It’s Me or Her!

Moving on after a divorce by pursuing  a new relationship can be difficult for the children of the previous marriage.  While the parents may be ready, even eager, to move on and engage in new relationships, a child can only see how the breakup of the marriage affects...

Estate Planning in Detail

Since estate planning is on my mind this week, I decided to feature a series of blogs that will give information about the many areas of estate planning in detail.  With these general guidelines and information, it is my hope to lessen the stigma of estate planning so...

Delphi Murders Update

Update: As family works to keep this case in the media as much as possible, there are also many online communities working tirelessly to assist that effort.  One person who has worked on Abby & Libby’s case since day 1 is Gray Hughes*.  He has created a detailed...

Cheating Spouse: How Do You Know?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been all over the news lately about their divorce.  There have been numerous reasons cited for the divorce.  Everything from drug abuse to physical abuse to affairs.   Both have been married AND divorced more than once.  In this and...

Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

The contemplation of marriage, instituted by the engagement of the parties, traditionally brings with it an engagement ring given from one to another.  Some have sentimental value:  engagement rings are handed down and are often heirlooms.  An engagement ring may have...

Should Siblings Be Separated by Divorce

When a couple divorces, it is difficult on the entire family.  Often it can be most difficult for the children of the marriage.  Depending on the age of the children, someone has to decide where they will live.  Typically, couples split and the children stay together...

Blanchette: Case on Appeal

Recently the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Ernest Justin Blanchette, a former deputy sheriff charged with sexual assault of an inmate during transport from the Belknap County jail to the state prison for women in Goffstown. This case shows...

Substance Abuse and Parenting

A parent or other caregiver with an alcohol or drug addiction has a profound impact on their children.  Substance abuse and parenting are more common than most people realize.  Unfortunately, the parent does not always see that his or her behavior is harmful or won’t...

Myths of Divorce

If you are considering divorce or even in the middle of one, it's critical that you are receiving good advice.  Advice from family and friends may seem helpful but can lead you down the wrong path.  Tips from the bar around the corner are even worse and sometimes...

Creating an Irrevocable Trust Can Save Your Loved Ones

The words "irrevocable trust" often seem intimidating to many of my clients.  However, when used properly, this can be an effective estate planning tool.   If designed properly, it can prevent an estate from staying tied up in probate for years.  It can help families...

Why Do I Need a Trust?

Welcome back to my series on estate planning. I hope that our articles have been helpful and informative. If anything else, I want to spark thought on this topic and help you begin deciding what you’d like to see happen when you are gone. Okay, let’s get to Trusts! I...

Can I Stop Him From Selling Our Home While Child Is Still in School?

Question: My husband moved out of our home two years ago and moved in with another woman. We have guardianship of my granddaughter who will be graduating from high school in 2018. she is going to be going to college after she graduates. My husband said that as soon as...

What Does Full Disclosure Mean for My Divorce?

Each litigant involved in a paternity or divorce action is required to complete and submit a form to the Court, and the opposing party, must provide “full disclosure" of your financial information.  In Massachusetts it is known as a financial statement.  In New...

Visitation: Part 1: What happens if a parent never shows up for visitation?

     While you hate to give up time with your child, you know that the visitation with his other parent is good for their relationship, can be a very positive thing and (let’s face it) is a little break for you. Even if you don’t look forward to that time when your...

Can my wife take my inheritance in the divorce?

Very popular question!  I often get this question - can my wife take my inheritance in the divorce? or can my husband take my inheritance in the divorce? In my experience, most judges look to keep “family money” within a family.  If your parents saved their entire...

Should I Stay Married For the Sake of My Children?

I often see the question posed to me in the middle of a conversation with a potential client, current client or even an acquaintance who knows I practice family law:  should I stay married for the sake of my children?  Should I wait until they are older before we...

Statutes, Retrials & Double Jeopardy

If you have seen the news this week, you may have noticed that actor and comedian Bill Cosby is back in court over charges of sexual assault.  While that may not be big news, the overall landscape regarding his crimes is big news.  His alleged crimes, the way they...

Can I lose my inheritance to child support?

Can I lose my inheritance to child support? The question you are asking can also be stated as:  Can the Court award child support based on the money I received in an inheritance? Child support is based on income. It is not based on gifts or inheritances.  For example,...

I Want to Fire My Lawyer!

If you have every said "I want to fire my lawyer, you are not alone".  Many times during a case it can seem confusing or overwhelming.  If you are frustrated or dissatisfied with your attorney, are not happy with the speed, outcome or method of the case, or are at the...

Massachusetts Contempt: Need to Know

 Massachusetts Contempt: What is it? How do I address it? What are the remedies? I hear people use the word “contempt” all of the time, but there is a lot of confusion about contempt and what to do about contempt. Here’s more information about this issue. What is it? ...

Estate Planning: Planning Ahead

Nobody wants to think about their death. It's unpleasant no matter how you look at it.  However, planning ahead is more than simply dividing up your worldly assets.  It can ensure that your children are cared for by the person that you prefer. Planning ahead can...

5 Appeals Cases To Follow and Why

Although there are a number of high profile wrongful conviction cases in the news, they are still a small percentage of all convictions. The news media would like to have us believe that all police investigations are tainted and that all detectives are on the take...

Massachusetts: How does Separate Support Differ from Divorce?

In Massachusetts, I am often asked about the difference between Separate Support and Divorce.  Actions for Separate Support and Divorce are two very distinct options that are separate filings in the Probate & Family Court. It is important to understand the...

Social Media and Legal Action

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to a client is to refrain from social media when you are involved in litigation.  Be it a criminal case, a divorce, a restraining order – no matter what type of case, the best bet is always to stay silent.  Clients are often...

Modification: The In’s and Out’s

As life changes, you may find yourself in a situation where your current order (or judgment) no longer applies to your circumstances or seems fair, given your life changes. If you find yourself in this situation, speak with an attorney to determine if you would...

Arsdale Appeals and Alimony

Recently two new cases came down from our SJC that you should be aware of, both relating to alimony. The first, SUSAN VAN ARSDALE vs. WILLIAM VAN ARSDALE, focused on the constitutionality of durational limits of alimony applied retroactively.* To examine the...

Things To Know About Your Family Lawyer

Family law can encompass many aspects of law.  It covers divorce, child custody, separation agreements, post and pre nuptials and much more.  Some families have an attorney they can go to for  estate planning.  As you can see family law is a wide field so it's...

My husband filed for divorce and tells me I have to leave. Do I?

Question:  My husband filed for divorce. He had me served with the papers at my office. I did not know this was coming and he tells me I have to be the one to leave our home – with our children! He says this is his home. NH: Do not leave your home. You don’t have to...

Why Family Should Not Provide Your Legal Representation

It's a common situation.  A person is in need of legal representation for one reason or another, and because of restricted funds, reaches out to a family member who is also an attorney.  The family member, be it a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, parent or child, wants...

Can My Childs Dad Go To NH Court for Physical Custody?

Question: I am moving to NH can my childs dad go to NH court and try and get 50 physical custody? He has shared legal right now. Answer: If you have an order, it might address this issue. Look within it to see if it talks about either party moving his or her residence...

Post Divorce Parenting: Helping Your Child Succeed

Life for a child of divorce can feel like a war zone. They often feel torn between two people who have completely different opinions and different life styles. The rules can vary from household to household which leaves the child with a sense of confusion and anger....

Can I have an attorney for mediation?

    Often I have people consult my office that either want to or have agreed to attend mediation (through a court process or otherwise). They tell me that they can “work it all out” or that they “don’t want to argue.” Often people tell me that they...

Quality Time With Kids

Children of divorced or separated parents have a bum rap.  There is just no other way to state it.  No matter what parents do, kids dream of having mom and dad together.  Behind the scenes this is not always the best solution for the children so what is the best plan...

Topics You Should Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer

Hiring a divorce lawyer is the first important step in a long list of your divorce. Once you retain a lawyer it is vitally important that you communicate openly and honestly with her.  She is there to to advocate for you to get the best solution for your situation. We...

The Queen Had Soul But No Will

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was recently laid to rest.  Her service was like no other in our history.  Musicians from all genres came out to pay respects with praise and song for a women who battled against the odds to become one of the true legends of our...

What Type of Attorney Should I Hire?

This article is part of a series about why it's important to hire an attorney and the reasons behind hiring an attorney.  The purpose of this series is to help you determine the types of situations where a lawyer is most needed and to know when to reach out for...

Paying Child Support Without a Court Order

Paying child support without a court order Paying child support without a court order is a question that comes up very often in my practice.  This can apply anytime there is a child between two people, whether the couple is married, or unmarried.  Here is a common...

Divorce: Moving on When Others Won’t

Divorce is rough.  It's an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.  Just getting to the point where a couple decides that divorce is the only solution left is often devastating.  After the dust settles, and the divorce is completely finalized, both parties are...

Why do I need a Will?

Why do I need a Will? Welcome back to my series on estate planning. In case you are just joining me, I want to let you know that we are mid-series in a string of articles about estate planning. Page back to Why do I need an Estate  and see what you’ve missed and stick...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators Over the past few years, we have seen horrible stories pertaining to children who were abused by either those they trusted or others, whom they felt they could trust.  In recent months, the singer R. Kelly has once again...

Making an Appeal in Massachusetts

Update: In recent news, Avery's attorneys have submitted a number of appeals documents.  Several of these have been denied, however it appears one or more of these are still winding their ways up through the Appeals Courts.  Brandan Dassey, however, may have exhausted...

Can You Get a Divorce Reversed?

Sometimes one or more parties to a divorce will be unhappy with the results of the divorce order and may wish to have the result reconsidered.  For whatever reason the question becomes "can you get a divorce reversed?".  This process of having the order reconsidered...

What does Child Support Cover: Medical Bills

We are continuing the series about Child Support and the things it covers.  This article will focus on expenses incurred that are outside the actual child support payment but perhaps still required by the court as a form of supporting your child.  Our previous article...

My best divorce advice: Don’t listen to your family & friends!

Sounds silly, right? It’s the best divorce advice that any attorney can give is don't listen to your family & friends. Your family and friends always want what’s best for you. They are there to love and support you. You look to them for help and guidance. When you...

Can I sign over or terminate my parental rights?

Often I have people call me to discuss “signing over their parental rights” in hopes that this will either 1) end the drama that happens when they visit with their child or 2) end their obligation to pay child support. This is a difficult question to answer in a...

Can I get an Annulment, please?

What is an Annulment? In Massachusetts, an annulment is a statement by the Court that you were never legally married. Unlike divorce, which acknowledges that you were married and then terminates that marriage, annulment it is as if the marriage never happened. ...

Pin It on Pinterest

Read previous post:
Legal Lessons From a Mistress
Legal Lessons From a Mistress

The following is from someone who asked to share her story so others could learn from her Legal Lessons From...

Close