Child Abuse and Custody Proceedings

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Courts in North Carolina take allegations of child abuse incredibly seriously, as they should. There are various ways that child abuse can impact custody proceedings. In fact, in any determination regarding the interest and welfare of a child, a court is required to consider “acts of domestic violence between the parties, the safety of the child, and the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party.” Further, if a court finds that a parent has abused or neglected a child, that parent’s custody and visitation rights can be subject to limitation, restriction, or even termination.

Mandatory Duty to Report Child Abuse

You have a moral and legal obligation to report child abuse, especially when it is happening to your own child. The steps you take to stop the abuse of your children, or your failure to take action, speak volumes to law enforcement, child protection services investigators, and to judges considering the fate of your children. If you are aware of abuse by your child’s other parent, it is essential that you take steps to intervene. This could include calling in a report to child protection services and consulting with your attorney to pursue orders to protect your child. Even if child protection services becomes involved with your family, if you can immediately demonstrate that you are a protective parent, the likelihood that your child will be removed is significantly reduced.

Don’t Make False Child Abuse Reports

Our office regularly sees parents who are in the process of divorce, or are trying to modify their child custody orders. Unfortunately, in acrimonious cases, there are times that parents call North Carolina Child Protection Service and report false child abuse reports. They do this in order to make the other parent look bad and to try to gain an advantage in their custody battle. This is wrong. Consider the following:

  • It is illegal to make a false child abuse report.
  • It is wrong to make a false child abuse report as it wastes CPS’s limited resources, which should be spent addressing actual child abuse.
  • Your children suffer if they have to speak with investigators or forensic interviewers to answer questions about abuse that never occurred.
  • Your children may be subjected to highly intrusive medical examinations or be required to go to therapy.
  • The court hearing your custody case may consider your false reports of child abuse in making its best interest determination. Meaning, your custody and visitation rights may be limited or restricted by a judge who is unimpressed with your parenting decisions.

New Direction Family Law has years of experience advocating to protect children in North Carolina. If your child has been abused by his or her other parent, contact us. There are few things we take more seriously than children in harm’s way. We can provide you with all of your legal options to protect your child. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call our office at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.

Sarah J. Hink

New Direction Family Law


(919) 719-3470