Is this child abuse?


#1

My stbx and i do not yet have a signed SA although we’ve been following the every other weekend schedule with me as custodial parent for 11 months. Our draft (unenforceable) SA outlines this visitation arrangement but also states that once he has a job of $42k annually and a 3br residence that we will go back to mediation to devise a 50/50 arrangement. This option will be available to him for one year after signing the agreement.

First question is - if we sign this and then and go to mediation once he meets the outlined criteria, am I bound to a 50/50 schedule? Or can I decide through mediation that I would rather stick to the existing every-other-weekend plan?

Second question - the reason I ask this is because my 8yo daughter tells me she does not want to go to his house anymore because he yells at them constantly and that he spanks our 2 year old really hard all the time. She confided that she is afraid of him. This was the main issue in our marriage and one of the reasons I delayed the divorce so long is because I’ve been worried about what would happen when I was not there. He has told my daughter not to tell me these things because “what happens at daddy’s stays at daddy’s”, and she was afraid to tell me. He didn’t take her to school on time yesterday so he could sleep late and got mad at her when she wanted to go to school. Then he told her not to tell me she was late. If I ask him about these things I will be throwing her under the bus and I will lose her trust and she will be in trouble with him at his house. Talk about a rock and a hard place! I am going to get her into a child psychologist to try and weed through this asap (and to get these and future incidents documented), but I wondered what this means from a legal perspective. This is abusive behavior by my standards but how does the court/judge typically look at these types of abuse? What would you advise around this?

Thrid question - since no agreement is officially in place and I’ve been the custodial parent for almost a year, does she HAVE to go to his house if she doesn’t want to? How does it work when there is no agreement?


#2

If the agreement says you will go to mediation to work out a 50/50 schedule, it could be interpreted as an agreement to share time. I would suggest you word the agreement simply to state that you will return to mediation to re-evaluate the custodial schedule.
As for the incidents your daughter describes, I would not say it rises to the level of abuse, but you concerns are certainly reasonable. I would suggest proceeding with therapy to try and find out what is really going on over there. If you truly believe your ex poses a threat to the children you do not have to send them over for visits.


#3

Can you tell me specifically what the law is around this? Are there things I should be doing, should not be doing now to ensure this is handled properly should I need to go that route? I’m assuming the therapist would be legally bound to call someone (child services???) if she suspected an issue? What would need to happen in order for him to be required to take say anger management classes, parenting classes? In what situation would supervised visitation be required? If I end up with sole custody, would he still have to pay me child support?


#4

If you suspect abuse I recommend getting the child in therapy and contacting DSS so they may investigate. If there is a problem the case worker can make recommendations, such as supervised visitation. If you end up with sole custody he will still have an obligation to pay support.