Divorce is a tough time for all parties involved. It can be a stressful and time consuming experience for the splitting couple. Couples have to figure out how to fairly divide possessions, money, and businesses, if applicable, while dealing with the emotional turmoil of losing their spouse. If there are children involved, the stakes are even higher. Agreeing upon a child time-sharing plan that works for everyone can be difficult, and negotiating child support and alimony rates, when applicable, can be an emotionally charged experience. Figuring out where everyone will live isn’t easy, either. Everyone will soon settle into a “new normal,” but many parents have a hard time adjusting to having less time with their children. This adjustment is even harder if one parent believes the other parent is neglecting or abusing the children.

Child abuse and neglect have their more obvious forms, including leaving a small child unattended for long periods of time, not feeding or diapering a baby, physically injuring a child, or sexually abusing a child, but the actual definitions of abuse and neglect much broader. Florida law defines child abuse as the “intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child.” Neglect of a child is defined as “a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child.” Florida law also considers a caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person a punishable offense.

If you feel that something is just not right with your child’s behavior since the divorce, it may be helpful to enlist the help of an experienced mental health professional. Many children behave differently as they adjust to the changes that divorce brings, but a professional can help determine if the child’s change in mood, attitude, or behavior is due to the stress of divorce or maltreatment.

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