Mother shouting at daughterThis is the next post in our series on the handling of emergency child custody cases in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our previous post discussed cases in which a parent’s neglect of a child may lead to changing custody. Whether the court will treat the situation as an emergency will depend upon the specific facts surrounding the case. It is important to retain an experienced custody attorney to review your case and help guide you through the legal process. This article will address situations in which a child is subjected to physical or sexual abuse while in the care of the other parent. If you are in need of assistance, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.

Nothing is quite as scary as suspecting that your child is being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. This is especially true if you suspect the child’s other parent of committing such offenses or allowing the abuse to occur while your child is in their care. Parents in this situation may not know how to proceed. First, if your child’s safety is in immediate danger from an abusive situation then it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible. After the situation has been handled by the police to the extent possible, the next step is to immediately contact a lawyer to determine whether you should seek an emergency change to your existing custody order.

If appropriate, your attorney will file an Emergency Motion to Modify Child Custody and request an expedited hearing. When the abuse has been substantiated by law enforcement or an arrest has occurred in connection with the complaint, a Judge will likely modify custody pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. Any custody change authorized at the initial hearing will be temporary until a more formal hearing or trial can be scheduled. Depending upon the evidence presented to the Court, the Judge may completely restrict or limit the other parent’s access via supervised visitation until the matter is permanently resolved. If Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved, the Court will likely schedule periodic status updates to review the situation. Generally speaking, a Judge will decline to issue a permanent custody decision until the CPS investigative process is complete.

Allegations of child abuse will be taken seriously by the Court. It is important to remember that you will be required to provide evidence that abuse has occurred. If you suspect that your child is being abused, but you lack evidence, then it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible prior to starting any legal proceedings. Initiating abuse claims with CPS or the Court that are later unsubstantiated, may negatively impact your custody rights, potentially resulting in more time awarded to the other parent. In non-emergency situations, it is imperative to discuss your situation with counsel to understand your options.

If you believe that your child is the victim of abuse, contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock child custody lawyer. Our attorneys are experienced in emergency custody modification proceedings and are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.