When a child is suffering abuse at the hands of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver it can unfortunately sometimes be difficult to end the abuse without taking formal steps to create legal barriers between the child and the abuser. Especially in cases where the abuser is violent and potentially abusive toward the person who wishes to also protect the child, taking legal steps takes real courage. Anyone who wishes to protect a a child from an abuser in Nevada has a number of legal options.
- Seek a protective order.
A protective order is a court-issued, legally binding document that requires the individual subject to the order (the “adverse party”) to not go to designated places, not approach designated people, or not engage in other behavior that could make the applicant for the order feel threatened or unsafe. For example, a protective order could require a person to stay a certain distance away from the home where a child lives, the child’s school, or a caregiver’s home. A protective order can be requested by someone who reasonably believes that his or her child has been the victim of a crime that is “harmful to minors,” such as sexual or physical abuse. NRS 33.400.
There are a number of advantages to protective orders. A short-term (30 days) order can be requested without first notifying the abuser, giving immediate, if temporary, protection. The applicant for a protective order need only provide the court with the necessary basics to establish the necessity of a protective order. The complexity grows for a protective order that will last for a longer period. A protective order can be issued for up to one year provided that the adverse party is allowed to be present for a hearing.
- Contact Child Protective Services.
The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services includes a special unit that responds to child abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services (CPS) invites the public to report child abuse. Based on the initial report a case worker will conduct a preliminary analysis to determine if the child’s safety is at risk and how the agency should respond. The agency also conducts investigations, including home visits and interviews to determine if the evidence substantiates the initial report. CPS has a range of options to protect the welfare of children, including removing the child from a home in some situations. Because CPS determinations can have serious consequences for children and families, their processes are subject to hearing and appeal requirements.
- Contact the police.
In cases where abuse is severe and ongoing it can be necessary to call 911 to request police assistance. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a specialized unit that investigates criminal child abuse.
- Sue for damages.
An abused child often needs counseling to ensure that trauma doesn’t lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. Child abusers can be sued to recover compensation not just for the child’s medical bills, but in many cases also for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other related damages. Whether a lawsuit is appropriate will depend on the circumstances.
Talk to an attorney about how to best respond to child abuse
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has provided caring, personalized service to clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We can help you craft a legal strategy to protect a child from abuse. For a free attorney consultation please contact us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.