After a divorce, child custody can become a complicated matter for parents. If you have reason to believe that your co-parent physically harmed your children, you may feel at a loss for what to do next. After all, if you share custody, can you legally keep your former spouse away from your children?
Most co-parents know that they cannot keep their children from the other parent when they have shared custody. However, if you suspect abuse, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence describes how you can protect your children.
Obtaining a Protection From Abuse Order
If you think that your child faces abuse by his or her other parent, you can obtain a PFA. To obtain the order, you go to the courthouse to fill out a form explaining why you need to seek protection for your kid. The judge reviews your petition and may ask questions about the order. You may receive a temporary PFA before the final hearing.
Stopping PFA Violations
If your ex violates the order, you have every right to call the police. The police have the right to arrest those who violate the order. However, police cannot arrest someone for not paying expenses or support. In some cases, you may have to testify about the violation in court. If found guilty, your ex-spouse may face jail time or probation.
You can leave the county or state when it comes to protection orders. The protection order remains valid wherever you and your children move.
If your ex-spouse violates the PFA order, he or she may face indirect criminal contempt charges.