If a woman is trying to take her children away from an abusive situation, does she have to report the abuse to authorities first or can she take her kids and leave?

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If a woman is trying to take her children away from an abusive situation, does she have to report the abuse to authorities first or can she take her kids and leave?

What would be the legal thing to do?

Asked on December 25, 2012 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the abuse represents any sort of imminent or immediate threat to her children (e.g. physical abuse that is endangering them; sexual abuse), she should both contact the authorities and get her children out of that situation--if children's health, safety, or lives are in dangered, you look to their safety first. You also report the abuse not just to protect the children, but to also create a record of the abuse for later legal actions.

If the abuse is not an immient or immediate threat (e.g. it is more subtle emotional abuse), then she should speak with a family law attorney right away to find the best way to handle the situation to protect herself and her children while also making sure she preserves all her rights. When the threat is not immediate, it's a good idea to seek legal counsel before acting.

The same applies to abuse aimed at her, not the children: for physical or sexual abuse, get out and report to the authorities; for less immediate threats, seek the advice of an attorney.


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