Parents work hard to make sure that their children are happy, healthy, and above all, safe. It can be a daunting task protecting your child from the common dangers in the world, ranging from online predators to drunk drivers to school bullies. In some unfortunate situations, parents may be concerned that it is the other parent that is actually posing the danger to their children. Following a divorce or separation, a court will enter a custody order and a parenting schedule that provides residential time for both parents. If a former spouse starts exhibiting behaviors that cause danger to the children, a parent may be wondering if he or she needs to call Child Protective Services to investigate.
Before making a call to CPS, you should carefully examine your motives. Calling CPS should never be used as a strategy to win a custody case; instead, CPS should only be contacted if a person has concerns about the safety of the children. A court can use unsubstantiated allegations to CPS against a parent who makes them. In addition to examining motives, also think carefully about your child, his or her age, and what he or she has actually told you. Keep in mind that a three-year-old child is a poor historian and most likely is not giving a completely accurate account of what has happened. On the other hand, a teenager will have a much better ability to recall events and details with accuracy.
Calling CPS is an extreme step, even if it is a necessary and proper one in some cases. In many cases, the safer step for a parent is to file an emergency motion to modify child custody and parenting time. In that motion, a parent can relate the allegations of unsafe conditions to the judge and ask that he or she change custody or reduce, eliminate or require supervised parenting time until the unsafe conditions are changed.
Seeking emergency relief and involving child protection services mean that very serious concerns about another parent have arisen. During these difficult times, it is important to obtain legal advice to help create an action plan to keep your children safe.