In 2012, more than 130,000 kids in North Carolina were referred to Department of Social Services agencies for evaluation of possible abuse and neglect—and those numbers have been rising steadily for the last few years.
If your divorce has to do with child abuse, or if you suspect your kids are being victimized when they’re with your ex, your Durham divorce lawyer can help you access the resources you need to protect your children and yourself.
Signs of Child Abuse
Child abuse isn’t always obvious. If you’re not around to see it first-hand, you might miss the signs entirely. Kids who are being abused may:
- become withdrawn, depressed or anxious
- exhibit aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity
- try to run away from home or avoid going home whenever possible
- engage in rebellious or defiant behavior
- attempt suicide
Unexplained injuries, or injuries that don’t quite match up with the explanation a child gives, are almost always red flags for child abuse.
If you or your children are in physical danger, call the police immediately. Get to a safe location as soon as possible, and do not tell your spouse where you are.
Child Abuse and Divorce
Many parents who suspect or discover child abuse turn to a Durham divorce lawyer for help—but that’s a tough step to take. You might be struggling with issues stemming from domestic violence, the belief that it’s your fault or the feeling that your spouse might change for the better.
You’ll have to provide your lawyer with answers that might be difficult to give. However, it’s important to divulge all the details of your situation to your Durham divorce lawyer, because child abuse has an impact on child custody and other aspects of your case. Your attorney will be able to tell you when it’s most advantageous for you to leave your marital home, whether you can file a protection order and what your next steps should be.
The North Carolina Division of Social Services takes reports of child abuse and neglect. Visit their site or call (919)527-6335.
You can also call Childhelp® at (800)422-4453.