The mother of your children may have left your life, but you are committed to keeping the relationship with your own kids healthy. Unfortunately, the guy your ex-wife or ex-partner is now seeing is, well, a creeper. He unsettles you, says inappropriate things, and makes a point of displaying his control of your ex. Worse, he sends out the wrong vibes about your children. What can you do?
Be Attentive and Act Fast
Avoid making a rash or false accusation of child abuse, but do work to protect your kids. Consider your sources of information:
- Your ex
- Your ex’s new boyfriend
- Your children
- Public records
Do not count on getting reliable information from your ex or her new boyfriend. Even if she suspects, somewhere in the back of her mind, that he may be bad for the kids, she may be so desperate for security and stability that she will (against all motherly instincts) overlook his behavior.
You can ask your children questions in the most delicate and least intrusive way possible, never implying anything about the guy:
- This: So, how do you feel about Mommy’s new friend? What kinds of things do you do with him? Does he ever take you places by himself?
- Not this: Does Mommy’s new friend ever touch you, hit you, or call you bad names?
You can check the guy out using public records, such as court record searches. You could hire a private investigator. You can also contact your divorce or family law attorney.
Avoid doing only one thing. If your kids are potentially at risk; use every approach, simultaneously, to protect them.
If you suspect the guy is abusing your kids, no doubt you want to settle the issue immediately, man to man. Do not do it. You could face charges of kidnapping, battery, or assault.
Instead, gather evidence. Gently interview your kids and record them discussing their interactions with the new boyfriend. Take photos of their condition coming back from their Mom’s home. Write a running record of interactions with your ex, her boyfriend, and the children.
Modify Custody and Visitation
The terms of your separation or divorce may have been spelled out in a property settlement agreement, which could have stated who is allowed to be around your children. Usually, such a document proscribes who is not allowed to be around them, such as family members known to be felons, child abusers, or substance abusers.
Your attorney could revisit the terms of the agreement to include a prohibition against the new boyfriend being near your kids. Your wife and her attorney would have to agree to the revision.
Kids Count: Factors Affecting Custody
One of the factors affecting custody in Virginia is spelled out in Virginia Code §20-124.3:
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference
Your kids are entitled to express their concerns about Mom’s new boyfriend, and have the courts take those concerns into account. Leave it to your attorney to interview your children and document their responses, so you cannot be accused of leading them to say things against the guy. Let their words stand on their own.
Get to Court
Your strongest, surest avenue to sheltering your children from the potential abuse of your ex-wife’s or partner’s new boyfriend is Virginia’s court system. A legal approach can take over the job of unceasing vigilance, reaching far beyond your arms to keep your kids safe.
Your attorney can help you contact Virginia’s CPS, petition a judge for an order of protection, and assemble evidence to support your claim.
A good step can be to revisit custody and visitation. You and your attorney can present evidence that your ex is not providing a stable, supportive home for your children. If she is the custodial parent and places your children in a dangerous situation by being close to a dangerous man, the court can compel immediate action, removing the kids from her (and the boyfriend).
Get a Protective Order
Virginia recognizes three types of protective orders, which may be used to force an alleged perpetrator to stay away from an alleged victim:
- Emergency Protective Order (lasts three days or until the next day court is in session, whichever is later)
- Preliminary Protective Order (lasts 15 days or until a full hearing)
- Protective Order (may last up to two years)
Protective orders are not issued based on hunches or suspicions, but rather on a petition or warrant supported by evidence. Virginia’s courts do not charge anything for issuing the orders, and anyone can request an order. You may find it safest to allow your attorney to handle this, since you will be accusing a particular individual of being a danger to your children.
A good custody attorney can help you petition the court for safeguards to protect your children. Contact The Firm For Men by calling 757-383-9184 or with a click to reach us online. You know your children; we know the law. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and keep your children secure.