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For California parents who share custody with an ex-spouse or partner who they fear may be dangerous to the children, handing off the children can be a difficult event. However, there are some steps that a parent who fears for his or her child’s safety can take.

Most importantly, parents should advise the court that the other parent has a history of violence or has physically or emotionally abused the children in the past. Judges may look into the allegations before granting custody. If it appears that the children may be at risk for harm, the judge may order supervised visitation.

When accusing the other parent of being emotionally or physically abusive, there is always the possibility that the other parent will claim that the accusations are false. Parents who fear for their children’s safety should ensure that they have documentation that detail the events, such as police reports, witness testimony and medical records. If the children were taken to a doctor or a therapist after an event occurred, those documents should also be provided to the court. In some cases, the children may be taken to a therapist who can review the children’s case in order to present an expert opinion to the court.

If another parent threatens to harm the parent or the children, the parent may have the ability to request a restraining order that legally prevents the other parent from seeing or interacting with both the parent and the children. In addition to helping the parent request a restraining order, a family law attorney may assist with determining what options are available in terms of child custody and visitation, especially if the claims of abuse or threats of abuse are valid. In some cases, the attorney might request that the other parent’s visitation be reduced or stopped altogether.