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What if my child's other parent is abusive?

Complying with a visitation order can be very emotionally draining, especially when a former partner or spouse has been abusive. Unfortunately, just because a spouse has an abusive past does not preclude him or her from having visitation rights to a child. However, if your child's other parent or someone in their household has abusive tendencies toward your child, then there are steps that can be taken to protect the child from further harm.

Usually, when there is suspected or documented abuse toward the child, then the court will require that the problematic parent's visitation time be supervised by someone the court approves. Practically speaking, this means that the parent is still able to spend time with the child, but must do so in the presence of an adult who can ensure that the child is safe from abuse.

The supervisory role can either be someone that both parents agree upon or someone appointed by the court as an impartial party. Regardless of the relationship the supervisor has to the child, the court must approve the supervisor.

In some cases, a partner of the other parent is the problem party. In cases like these, you might consider seeking a protection order against the problematic person so that the other parent can continue to visit with the child while retaining the child's safety. If you are subject to a visitation order, a protection order against the other parent's partner won't override it, but the party subject to the protection order must obey it. This would practically mean that the other parent could spend time with the child, but not in the presence of his or her partner who is abusive.

Visitation orders can be frustrating to comply with, but are a necessary part of protecting the rights of both parents and children. if you are concerned about the safety of your child in a visitation scenario, do not hesitate to seek out the help of an experienced attorney who can help you protect yourself and your child with the strength of the law.

Source: Findlaw, "Parental Visitation Rights FAQ," accessed Feb. 16, 2017

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