If you suspect or have knowledge that one of your children is in danger or is being abused, by law you must immediately report it. You can report it by calling DCFS (the Division of Child and Family Services) at the Utah Child Abuse Hotline number: (855) 323-3237. Or you can otherwise notify the nearest peace officer or law enforcement agency, or call 911 for emergencies.
By law, you must report potential neglect or abuse of any child. If you are not sure whether someone’s actions are considered neglect or abuse, you can read Utah’s legal definitions of abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, harm, and neglect here: UCA 78A-6-105.
Sometimes, for various reasons, DCFS will not open a case to further investigate the reported allegation of child abuse or neglect. But that is DCFS’s judgment call – if you feel a child has been harmed or neglected under the above definitions, it is better to be safe and report it.
If you are in a child custody dispute, such as a divorce, paternity action or parentage action, and therefore you are trying to obtain custody of your children, it is especially important to report abuse or neglect of your children, whether the abuse was by your spouse or by anyone else. If you do not, you could potentially be charged with “failure to protect,” which is a factor a court would likely consider in deciding whether to award you custody.
First and foremost, it is important to report abuse because it is important for you to protect your children.
To schedule a free consultation with our office and learn about how we can help you with this and other family law issues, call us at (801) 772-4419.