The challenge of proving emotional abuse in a NJ child custody case
Emotional abuse can be difficult to prove in a child custody case.
While physical abuse causes injuries that can easily be observed and documented, the scars left by emotional abuse are not as visible.
Proving that your child is being emotionally abused by their other parent can be an uphill battle. But with your child’s emotional and mental well-being at stake, it is a battle worth fighting.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse includes a variety of behaviors. The types of emotional abuse commonly seen in child custody cases include doing any of the following to the child:
- Verbally Assaulting
Children are especially vulnerable to emotional abuse when families are experiencing or have recently experienced a divorce or separation.
Signs that your child is being emotionally abused
Emotional abuse is tough to prove because it is non-physical. The injuries caused by physical abuse are easier to document through medical exams, police reports and photographs. The wounds caused by emotional abuse are more difficult to spot, but there are some things you can look for, such as:
- Your child being fearful of a parent
- Child stating that they hate a parent
- Child talking badly about themselves
- Child seeming emotionally immature compared with their peers
- Sudden changes in your child’s speech, such as developing a stutter
- Sudden changes in your child’s overall behavior or demeanor
- Child acting out at school or suddenly doing poorly in school
Even if you haven’t personally witnessed your child’s other parent being emotionally abusive, you may have noticed some of the above signs after your child has spent time with their other parent. However, suspecting – or even witnessing – emotional abuse is not enough to prove emotional abuse in a child custody case in New Jersey. You need evidence.
A child custody evaluation is the best way to prove emotional abuse
The best way to prove that your child is being emotionally abused by their other parent is to ask for a child custody evaluation during divorce proceedings. A neutral mental-health professional will be appointed by the court to evaluate your child’s relationship with each parent.
The child custody evaluation will consider a variety of factors, and include separate interviews with your child, each parent, and your child’s teachers, physicians, and other caregivers. A report will be prepared for your court and will include any evidence of emotional abuse, as well as a recommendation regarding custody.