Child Abuse: Frequently Asked Questions

What could happen to a person who does not report child abuse?

Most states have enacted laws, which specify the penalties for not reporting child abuse or neglect. These laws apply to those who omit information deliberately and intentionally. A person who should have known about the abuse can be punished for it. Usually, the punishment can be a fine or imprisonment.

Can I sue the Catholic diocese of my former priest or the Catholic Church for a priest who committed sexual abuse?

It is common not only in the case of priests who commit sexual abuse to be declared civil responsible for their actions, but also for their Catholic churches or dioceses to be held responsible for not supervising or sanctioning the inappropriate conduct of the priest. Whether the Catholic diocese or church may or may not be held responsible in these circumstances depends on the particular facts and who will determine it best will be a lawyer with experience in these types of cases.

What kind of damage is available through civil lawsuits against priests accused of committing sexual abuse?

The kind of damage available to civil lawsuits for sexual abuse against Catholic priests or churches varies from state to state. Such damages could include medical and therapy expenses, both past and future, compensation for pain and suffering and other financial compensation.

Are damages for emotional suffering available in lawsuits against priests who committed sexual abuse in the past?

The recovery of damages for emotional suffering in sexual abuse lawsuits against priests who committed sexual abuse in the past depends on state law. While some state laws specifically allow the recovery of damages for emotional distress, often referred to as “pain and suffering,” in certain types of civil lawsuits, other state laws may or may not allow damages for emotional suffering in sexual abuse claims that involve priests

Should there be a criminal conviction before there is a civil lawsuit against a priest for prior sexual abuse?

No. Criminal liability for sexual abuse and civil liability for sexual abuse are two completely different issues. Since the legal norm for criminal responsibility is generally superior to the legal norm for civil liability, it may happen that a priest is found guilty civilly without having been convicted of a crime under state law.

Can my parental rights be extinguished if I am in prison?

Yes. A parent’s parental rights over their child could be extinguished due to the abandonment of the child by the father. Incarceration of a parent could result in abandonment due to the length of the sentence and the absence of any attempt by the father to get involved in the child’s life. Parental rights could also be affected if the father was convicted of a violent crime towards his son or any other child.

Can grandparents visit their grandchildren if their son / daughter is divorced from their spouse?

If the custodial parent does not allow grandparents to visit their grandchildren, the grandparents will need a court order. Before allowing a third-party visit order, grandparents must generally demonstrate that the visit is in the best interest of the child and that the parents’ decision to prohibit such visit is not in the best interest of the child.

Talk to a lawyer qualified in Family Law today

This article is intended to be useful and informative, but legal issues can become complicated and stressful. A lawyer qualified in family law can attend to your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified family law attorney near you to discuss your particular legal situation.

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