What Can I Do About Abuse?

I regret to say that my office gets asked this question more than any other question by anyone who calls in with questions about what to do for their children.  I can't know what your family is going through, but I can give you a rough guideline on the work that will need to be done to get your family out of a bad situation.

First Steps:

Document everything.  Call any lawyer you want, any jurisdiction you please, this is the advice they will give you.  Write everything down that happened, keep a journal, make police reports, get a Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) case worker.  Everything needs to be written down and recorded to prove the abuse to the Court.

Call DCFS. 800-252-2873.  DCFS will investigate your claim and often will send someone out to look into the welfare of your children.  In cases of abuse they will assign a case-worker to supervise the family and examine the abuse.

Get an Order of Protection.  We can file a petition for an order of protection on your behalf that will protect you from the people in your family that are harming you or your children.  This is a court procedure where you inform the Court that for everybody's well-being, you cannot be around the abusive person anymore.

Going Forward:

Modify the Parenting Time.  Seek to modify the Joint Parenting Plan so that the abusive party is in minimal or no contact with the child.

Supervised Visitations.  Include a clause in the Joint Parenting Plan where the abusive party cannot be alone with you and/or the child.

Guardian-ad-Litem:  A "GAL" is a neutral party (who is usually a court appointed attorney) that observes the family and makes non-biased determinations for the Court on what the life of the family is like.  The GAL will help you to make the disruption of the abuse in your life minimal.

Court Appointed Mediation: Schedule sessions with other neutral third parties that can recommend counselling out of court so that the abusive party knows the harm he or she is causing, and can be motivated to seek the help that he or she will require.