By Daniel Exner
If you fear your children are at serious risk for sexual abuse there are generally a number of different options that may be available to help.
Below are 4 options you can pursue if you fear your children are being sexually abused, but please keep in mind two things during each explanation:
1.) The proof you will need to present.
2.) Possible ramifications.
Where I practice, interested parties and government officials can file a petition for “Children in need of Protection and/or Services” (a.k.a. CHiPS).
A petitioner may file a CHiPS action if he or she suspects the children live in a dangerous environment, are abused, or threatened with abuse. Upon filing, the court will dispatch social workers to investigate the situation and may take a number of temporary or permanent actions, including removing the children from the danger.
Depending on your state’s divorce laws, there may be a similar option available for you. If this is the case, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (an attorney who represents the children and provides an opinion as to what is in the children’s best interests) to make a recommendation.
A social worker may also make conclusions based on his or her investigation. If this social worker substantiates the abuse, he or she will put many protections in place.
If you take this route, you will face a rather lengthy court investigation with all the typical costs. You will also open yourself up to scrutiny, as the interested parties will examine your living conditions and relationship with the children.
As the children’s parent, you may file for a restraining order on their behalf if you suspect they are in danger of harm. The order may result in either a temporary or permanent injunction against the person(s) who causes the threat. The court may issue a temporary restraining order and then conduct a full hearing on the case a few weeks later to hear all the evidence.
This option will probably get you the quickest results, or at least get you into court quickly, if the court accepts your evidence of possible harm. Evidence is going to be a huge issue. Courts will not hand out restraining orders unless there is ample evidence of the harm or imminent harm.
Motion to Modify Custody or Modify Temporary Order:
Depending on whether you are in the middle of a divorce, divorced, or just separated, your status will dictate what you may ask the court to order.You may be able to request a new or modified custody order based on the danger to the children. Like the other options, a Guardian Ad Litem will likely be appointed and you will have to deal with the proof element.
You may also want to consider non-legal remedies for the immediate future. If your children are enrolled in school, you may be able to seek counseling or some kind of evaluation from his educators. Private therapy may also be an option.
Many professionals in education and therapy are also mandatory reporters of abuse. They may be able to help you if they agree with your assessment, and more importantly, help the children.
I strongly recommend speaking with an experienced mens divorce lawyer in your area if you suspect your children are being sexually abused. I would like to think these remedies mentioned are available for all children across the country, but your options are largely dependent on the laws of your state.