As a father, you take your duty to protect your children seriously. If you know or suspect your son or daughter is the victim of child abuse or neglect while in the custody of their other parent, you want and need to protect them — but you may be unsure of the best way to do so.
While you may want to immediately remove your child from the situation and run, it is crucial that you follow the appropriate legal steps to help ensure your continued custody or visitation with your child. An experienced Tulsa divorce attorney for men can help you as you take steps to ensure your son or daughter is safe from child abuse or neglect.
When Possible, First Contact a Divorce Attorney for Men in Tulsa
Your first step should be to meet with an experienced Tulsa men’s divorce lawyer. With so many variables in a suspected abuse or neglect situation between parents who are divorced or separated, it is best to not rely on guesswork in the process.
If you cannot reach a men’s rights lawyer immediately, remember that it is your duty to report child abuse. Not reporting suspected child abuse is a misdemeanor. If you suspect it, it should be reported.
Ideally, you should make the report directly to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). This situation is tricky, however, as involving DHS before your own attorney may lead to mutual allegations of neglect or abuse. These allegations could result in both parents losing custody for a short time or longer, which is not in your child’s best interests.
Can You Keep Your Child Until Your Attorney Can Be Reached?
Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate and even necessary to keep your child away from the other parent until your Tulsa men’s rights lawyer can be reached. In a worst case scenario, you can withhold the return of your child after your scheduled visitation ends until you can contact an attorney during normal business hours.
Before taking this step, be sure to have a safety plan to avoid confrontations and any escalations with your child’s other parent. Once you can contact your men’s rights lawyer in Tulsa, he or she can file an immediate notice to suspend visitation as soon as possible.
Documentation and Evidence of Suspected Child Abuse
Evidence is key when it comes to suspected child abuse or neglect in cases of child custody and visitation. You should document everything. Take several pictures of any injuries and make notes of what your child reports or other evidence while it is fresh in your mind.
When speaking with your child, take care not to plant ideas or lead them to make untrue statements about their other parent to gain approval. Let them explain their feelings or circumstances, but don’t lead them with specific questions about who caused those feelings. Don’t encourage them to criticize the other parent; they might do so merely to undermine the other parent’s legitimate parental authority.
Emergency Custody Hearings
Under Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 107.4, an emergency custody hearing can be requested. However, the request must be accompanied by one of the following independent reports:
- a police report, or
- a Department of Human Services (DHS) report
Either report must show that if the child were to stay in their current custody or visitation arrangement that the child is likely to suffer serious harm. Without a report, the motion for such a hearing will need to have a notarized affidavit from someone who can attest that the child is endangered.
Your Tulsa father’s rights lawyer could help you get a report or an affidavit to meet this requirement. He or she could then file your motion for an emergency custody hearing, which must be conducted within 72 hours of the filing.
When You Need a Reliable Men’s Rights Attorney in Tulsa
It is possible to protect your children and still adhere to legal requirements with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer. If you need an attorney to help you through this difficult time, you have come to the right place.
For your case review with an experienced Tulsa men’s rights lawyer, call my office today at 918-986-7724 or complete our online contact form.