For many of us, the term “Parental Neglect” sounds like failing to feed, clothe or otherwise provide children with the things they need to be healthy and happy. In reality and according to the legal definitions, it more closely relates to abuse. During divorce cases where there is a dispute over child custody, one parent may accuse the other of neglect of their children. Either the court or the parent will typically hire private investigators to investigate the accused parent for evidence that can be used in court.
Specific laws differ from state to state. In the state of Arizona, child abuse and neglect are defined as “the infliction of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, exploitation, neglect, or abandonment.” The more literal definition of neglect is when the parent or other guardian fails to provide children with needed care for an illness or injury or leaving young children alone without supervision or locking them either inside or outside of the home without adequate food, clothing and shelter for their well-being. In some cases, letting children live in a dirty residence might also be considered neglect.
What Happens when Abuse or Neglect is Reported?
If the parent or another person reports suspected abuse or neglect to a social worker, a specialist is assigned to the case to interview the people in the child’s life and use the gathered information to determine if, in fact, abuse or neglect is occurring. The parent may decide to hire private investigators in addition to the report to a social worker or in place of it.
The outcome of the investigation by the DCS team will be to determine if there are any real concerns that neglect exists. The result may be that the family is referred to services in the community. The outcome is typically much different when private investigators are hired to investigate the potential neglect of a child by a single parent, particularly if the accusation is made during divorce proceedings. The findings of their investigation will probably be used as evidence against the other parent in court. Since the court sides with the parent that the deem to be in the best interest of the child, a parent or guardian that has been proven neglectful of the child or children could lose sole custody of their children if not total custody.
In a case where alcohol or drugs are being abused by a parent, private investigators often use surveillance to determine what happens when the parent has custody of the child. Evidence will be gathered on video which supports the allegations of neglect. Activities such as reckless driving and criminal activity which could put the child’s safety in danger will also be documented. Any parent who has suspicions that their child may be in danger should consider hiring private investigators to protect their child. Since the court is not likely to be responsive based on the accusation of the other parent, securing evidence that can be professionally represented could make the difference in the safety of the child’s future.