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Ronda A. Middleton
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What to do when one parent puts the child in danger

Some parents in California who are going through a divorce may be worried about the child’s safety with the other parent. This was the case for one man who was worried about how much his wife drank and the possibility that she might drink and drive. He was also concerned because he said he had been the main caregiver for the child although the mother wanted to delay the divorce so that she could collect evidence of her own caregiving.

A parent who is worried about a child’s safety can try to get custody of the child. Unfortunately, this could be difficult if there is not an arrest record or similar evidence against the other parent. The parent seeking custody might try to get neighbors or others to testify as witnesses. Alcohol abuse and its danger to a child can be difficult to prove. In one case, a court found that although one man drank regularly, there was no evidence that he did so when the child was in his care.

Parents should get as much documentation as possible, including everything from documentation of attending the child’s medical appointments to writing down information about any conflicts with the other parent. This information can be important if parents cannot reach an agreement about child custody and there is a custody battle.

Parents might be able to resolve their differences in mediation. However, this may not be possible if one parent is abusing or neglecting the child or if a parent is worried about an issue such as a parental abduction. If a court determines that a child is unsafe with one parent, that parent may be blocked from seeing the child altogether or may only be allowed supervised visitation in which another party is present. In some cases, the parent may be able to later regain visitation or custody rights under certain conditions.