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Criminal or Creepy? How to Know When to Alert Authorities During a Custody Dispute

The road to a child custody arrangement can be rocky at times, and until an arrangement can be agreed upon by both parties involved and finalized in family court, concerning situations may arise. How can you tell if behavior is criminal or just plain creepy?

Simply put, ask yourself the question, could the behavior in question put the child in danger and if so, to what degree?  This being said, if the answer is yes, then contact your lawyer to discuss the situation or depending on the immediacy of the situation, ask the police for help.

Custody disputes are extremely emotional and emotions can cause people to behave in ways that make others uncomfortable. If a parent hasn’t spent time with their child for some time, then the parent may try to catch a glimpse of them on the playground during recess, watch team practices or games and talk about the child with parents of their friends. All seemingly benign behaviors, but could be illegal if a restraining order is in place.  

The process of determining custody of a child is taxing emotionally and socially on the child. If you are a parent in this situation, ask yourself a few questions; if my child is engaged in their daily activities, is it the best for them if I appear unexpectedly? How will my presence affect my child’s emotional well-being?

This is a rational way of handling the emotions of separation. Then there are the irrational. I’ve heard reports of one parent calling the other incessantly, not leaving messages or hanging up when the phone is answered. Other situations involve parents trolling the social media accounts of their child, child’s friends and family members looking for signs of their child or recent pictures. Although these behaviors are certainly creepy, if a restraining order is not in place, then they are not criminal. Do not dismiss these activities. Create a journal that includes specific instances, dates and times to document the activity and share this journal with your lawyer or the police.

Although it is good practice to lock down social media accounts with the strongest privacy safeguards offered, many times children open these accounts independently. Review social media account privacy policies regularly, as privacy options change as fast as the technology is updated. If privacy is a concern, be certain to remove the ability for you and your child’s devices to identify locations. When this feature is on and posts are made real-time, the digital code for the post includes the exact coordinates of your vacation home, friend’s house or athletic field, providing a virtual map to your whereabouts.

A child’s safety and security is the primary concern at all times. If at any point, you feel that your child’s well-being is compromised, contact your lawyer or the police if appropriate. Leave it to the professionals to determine what behaviors need further attention.

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