I have a young daughter that is biologically mine and a stepson who I have reason to believe are being abused at their mother's house.
My ex and I have a mutual friend who wrote me that she has witnessed both physical and mental abuse of the children.
How do I protect the children, especially since one of them is not my biological child?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New York divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
Generally speaking, a stepparent does not have any rights to a child who is not their biological child, under the law. However, a court can award custody to a non-parent if "exceptional circumstances" are shown, such as abuse. You would also have to show that your stepson's father is not fit to have custody of him.
I cannot tell from your question if you already have a custody agreement that allows for time with both children. If not, I would encourage you to go to family court and begin the process.
Further, I would strongly encourage you to call Child Protective Services and ask for an investigation to be opened on behalf of the children. You will want to provide CPS with a copy of the letter from the mutual friend. Be sure to keep one for yourself.
Read Related Articles:Stepparent Rights
I would then encourage you to get to an attorney to discuss getting an order of protection on behalf of the children from their abuser. You may also want to discuss your custody options.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.