If you and your minor child are escaping an abusive household via divorce, you may have concerns about Massachusetts courts awarding full or partial child custody or even visitation rights to your abusive former spouse. You have a right to protect your children, which means using the full extent of legal provisions available to demonstrate child abuse to the satisfaction of the court. Luckily, the state has a number of statutes in place to handle this matter.
Per Section 31A of Massachusetts general law, the courts must take the best interests of the child into account when considering temporary or permanent custody or visitation rights. This includes evidence of any prior or current abuse toward that child. Abuse can be defined either as a single serious incident or a pattern of recurring incidents, and encompasses everything from causing or attempting bodily harm to forced sexual relations. You may present evidence of such abuse to the courts to make a case for revoking the other parent's access to your child.
Other abuses can include emotional and psychological abuse that takes a toll on the child's well-being. Some things that qualify as abuse but that you may not consider at first include depriving children of food and water, depriving them of adequate shelter and not clothing them properly. These instances can lead to bodily harm from malnutrition and exposure, and should be documented just as thoroughly as more physical or sexual abuse.
This is a reference blog providing information for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for qualified legal counsel.