How to Get Custody in NC if You Suspect Child Abuse

Written by Jonathan Breeden

Co-parenting after a divorce is hard enough. But, discovering that your child has been abused by their other parent would be devastating. If you believe your child has been abused, you most likely want to seek sole custody. Fortunately, North Carolina has procedures in place to help parents who believe that another parent or guardian is abusing their child.

When you find out your child has been abused, you need a North Carolina custody lawyer who will act quickly – for you and your child’s safety. The Breeden Law Office is ready to jump in and help you pursue a custody case immediately. With offices in Raleigh, Angier, Garner, and Smithfield, call (919) 661-4970 to schedule an appointment.

Signs of Child Abuse

Your child might come out and tell you that he or she is being abused, but if your child is not old enough to verbalize this or you suspect abuse, look for:

  • Bruises or injuries that can’t be explained or don’t match the story
  • Bite marks
  • Burn marks that can’t be explained
  • Repeated injuries such as broken bones
  • Injury marks that have a pattern that matches an object or a hand
  • Several injuries at different healing stages
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Attempts at self-harm
  • Avoidance of physical contact
  • Fear of the other parent
  • Words or descriptions of sex organs or sex acts that are not age-appropriate

What to Do if You Suspect Child Abuse

If your child is with the other parent and you believe he or she is in immediate danger, you should call 911. North Carolina law requires that any adult who suspects child abuse must report it.

You can do so by calling your local county Department of Social Services (DSS) and making a report. DSS must do an investigation within 24 hours. If the report is valid, DSS can provide services to those involved and possibly remove the child from the home. Be sure to cooperate with DSS and tell them what you know, what you observed, and what you suspect.

How to Get Custody if There’s Child Abuse

The first step if you suspect your child is being abused by their other parent is hiring an experienced North Carolina child custody lawyer with prior successes in abuse situations to help. If DSS removes the child from the other parent’s home, your attorney will work to ensure the child is placed in your care. Once the child is safe, you may be able to obtain a temporary custody order.

Whether or not there is an ongoing DSS investigation, you can seek an emergency order of custody if your child is being abused. Your attorney will file an emergency motion seeking temporary custody, but the procedures differ by county.

The court will hear the request, and the other parent need not be present since it is considered an emergency. To obtain an emergency custody order in North Carolina, you must be able to show that your child is a serious risk of injury, sexual abuse, or that the other parent is likely to take the child out of state.

After an emergency custody order is issued, the court will schedule a hearing within 10 days to consider if the emergency order should continue. Once you have temporary custody, your attorney can seek a permanent custody order.

Contact Attorney Jonathan Breeden ASAP

Protecting your child is of the utmost importance. And the Breeden Law Office shares your concerns. We are highly aggressive custody attorneys with a lot of experience in challenging custody situations. We’re ready to help you do whatever is legally necessary to be sure your child is safe.

Call (919) 661-4970 today or contact us online so we can get started.


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A book by Jonathan Breeden