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Tips for parents who are concerned about a child's safety

Some parents in Pennsylvania who are going through a divorce might be worried that their child is unsafe with the other parent. For example, one parent was worried about another parent's drinking. The mother had reportedly taken the child and cut off contact, and the father was concerned that she would drink and drive. She had also not been the child's main caregiver, and the father was concerned about the child's well-being.

A court might grant a parent emergency custody if the child is unsafe with the other parent, but the parent usually has to show police reports or other documentation to demonstrate that there is an issue. Even if one parent can prove the other drinks a lot, it may not sway a court. One court decided that although a father drank every night, this did not prove that he drank when he had the children with him.

Parents going through a divorce may want to document any altercations with the other parent. They should also note when they take the child to the school, bring the child to the doctor or perform other parenting duties. This documentation can all be part of the evidence that a parent takes into court if the child custody case cannot be resolved outside of court.

Parents usually try to negotiate instead of going straight into litigation. This gives them the opportunity to create an agreement for child custody and visitation that best suits their schedules and that of their children. In cases that go to litigation, there may be a variety of outcomes. If a parent does successfully demonstrate that the other parent is a danger to the child, the other parent might only be allowed supervised visitation or no visitation. The court may put conditions in place, such as requiring the parent to take a parenting class, that might modify the arrangement if fulfilled.

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