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Custody and Issues of Neglect

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I'm involved in a contested custody divorce in New Jersey. I am trying to achieve custody of my five-year-old son. I believe I have the facts to demonstrate neglect and emotional abuse on the part of his mother. My attorney asked me if the situations can be written off as mere bad-parenting on her part, thus not necessitating DYFS involvement, as well as a prolonged litigation/trial. His mother works a rigid full time job, and cannot be flexible for our son's needs. She has also used our son to hurt me on various occasions.

Is there any documented resource which can help me present issues of neglect/abuse ?

A: From what you have written, I don't believe you have a documentable case to declare your ex-wife an unfit mother. This is very hard to prove to the courts; your opinion of her parenting skills is not enough to sway a court. These cases usually end up with opposing lawyers hiring psychological experts to support their client's position and the child being placed in the middle of all this anger and blame.

The only support/resources I know that may offer you strategies for your custody battle are the national networks of divorced fathers rights organizations. Key word an Internet search and it will probably yield results. Good luck.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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