Family Law

Child Abuse & Custody

What Can Happen To A Person Who Fails To Report Child Abuse?

Most states have enacted statutes, which specify the punishments for failing to report child abuse or neglect. These statutes apply to those people who knowingly and willfully fail to report. A person who should have known about the abuse can be punished for it. Typically the punishment can be a fine or imprisonment.

Can I sue my former priest's Catholic diocese and/or the Catholic Church for sexual abuse by a priest that occurred in the past?

It is common for not only priests who committed sexual abuse to be held civilly liable for their actions, but also for their churches and/or Catholic dioceses to be held liable for failing to supervise or otherwise discipline priests’ misconduct.  Whether or not a Catholic diocese and/or church can be held liable in these circumstances depends on the facts of your case, and is best determined by an experienced lawyer who routinely handles these types of cases.

What kinds of damages are available through civil lawsuits against priests who have committed sexual abuse?

The types of damages available in sexual abuse civil lawsuits against priests and/or Catholic churches vary from one state to the next.  Such damages may include medical and therapy expenses, both past and future, pain and suffering, and other types of financial compensation.

Are damages for emotional distress available in lawsuits against priests for past sexual abuse?

The recovery of damages for emotional distress in sexual abuse lawsuits against priests is dependent upon state law.  While some state laws specifically permit the recovery of emotional distress damages, often referred to as pain and suffering, in certain types of civil lawsuits, other state laws may or may not allow emotional distress damages in sexual abuse lawsuits involving priests.

Does there need to be a criminal conviction before there can be a civil lawsuit against a priest for past sexual abuse?

No.  Criminal liability for sexual abuse and civil liability for sexual abuse are two completely different issues.  As the legal standard for criminal liability is generally higher than for civil liability, it is very possible that a priest could be civilly liable without having been convicted of any crime under state law.

Can My Parental Rights Be Terminated While I Am In Jail?

Yes.  A parent's rights over their child may be terminated due to the parent's abandonment of the child.  A parent's incarceration may result in an abandonment due to the length of the sentence and the lack of any attempt by the parent to be involved in their child's life.  Parental rights may also be terminated if the parent was convicted of a violent crime against their child or any other child.

Can Grandparents Have Visitation With Their Grandchildren If Their Son Or Daughter Is Divorced From The Other Parent?

If a custodial parent does not allow grandparents visitation with their grandchildren the grandparents will need a court order.  Before allowing a non-parental visitation order the grandparents must usually show that the visitation is in the best interests of the child and that the parent’s decision forbidding the visitation is not in the child’s best interest.