Debating calling Child Protective Services (CPS) on another parent can be tough. Here is how to tell if you should call CPS on another parent.
If the parents are no longer together, a decision to call CPS on their former partner may stem from one of two places. Firstly, the parent may truly be concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their child while they are under the care of their other parent, which in this case, calling CPS may be perfectly valid. However, the parent may be considering calling CPS as a strategy to win a custody battle. If this were the line of thinking, unsubstantiated allegations will likely do more harm to the child-parent relationship than good.
Is this the right decision?
If a parent has a legitimate reason to believe their child is in danger while with their other parent, this decision becomes clearer–– it is absolutely advisable for a parent to advocate for their child’s best interest. A parent’s advocacy for their child is especially justified if they believe their child is being abused or neglected by their other parent. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services provides helpful resources for a parent to consult if they suspect any of these issues. The drop-down menu also helps a parent determine which behaviors are disciplinary or neglectful, as well as the proper steps on how to file a complaint or grievance.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services provides the following contact information for parents who have decided to call CPS:
- Toll-free within California: (800) 540-4000
- Outside of California: (213) 639-4500
This hotline is available 24/7.
What happens if parental motives or the situation itself is unclear?
On the other hand, if it is harder for a parent to decipher their motives, the same will be true of the court. Untrue allegations will remain a part of the child custody story, and will especially make an impact on the child if they are old enough to understand their situation. Even if this is the case, there are still steps that a parent can take to remedy their issue. If a parent has concerns over the other parent’s custody but does not believe that their child is in danger, they can file for an emergency motion to modify child custody and parenting time. The parent is still able to relay their concerns without involving CPS. For example, if unsafe conditions are recognized, the judge may reduce or eliminate the other parent’s custody of the child.