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Why verbal abuse is often not considered in custody cases

If a child has been or is being physically or sexually abused by a parent (or the other parent has alleged such abuse), that will obviously play a large role in determining if the offending parent will have any custody or visitation rights to the child. However, sadly, family law judges are less likely to consider verbal abuse when making custody decisions.

Stinging, negative words can impact children for the rest of their lives every bit as much as physical abuse can. However, people can't be charged with domestic violence for what they say to a child, no matter how ugly, in private. Therefore, it's more difficult for a parent's verbal abuse to be considered when custody decisions are made.

Courts can't predict that a parent's verbal abuse of a child will escalate to physical abuse. A judge may also ask why the other parent didn't put a stop to it. Generally, however, that parent didn't have enough power in the relationship to do so. A parent's verbal abuse of a child may escalate after a divorce out of anger or frustration with the situation.

If your co-parent has regularly verbally abused your child, either before, during or after a divorce, and you believe that he or she is causing mental or emotional damage to your child as a result, it's best to seek experienced legal guidance from a Massachusetts family law attorney. He or she can help you work to make a case for limited custody and visitation by the other parent to the court for the best interests of your child.

Source: HealthyPlace, "Verbal Abuse and Child Custody in Family Court," accessed June 21, 2017

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