Parents often ask me about whether or not they should report suspected child abuse. These questions often arise in the context of a pending divorce case or after a child custody proceeding or a custody modification motion has been filed. I routinely recommend that the concerned parent figure out a way to have any report to Child Protective Services be made by a mandated reporter. Why do I recommend this? Too often, in my experience, CPS or the Friend of the Court or the judge in the case may not believe the report. When a CPS referral is made and the report comes back in 60 days (or less) as "unsubstantiated," that report may negatively affect a parent's custody rights. If the judge thinks that a parent is making false allegations of abuse, the judge may well rule in favor of the other parent when making custody or parenting time rulings.
"Unsubstantiated." What does this term mean in this context? Professor Daniel Pollack and Lori Kornblum, J.D. discuss the literal and substantive meaning of the term in a recent article.