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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4823
Experience:  I have assisted many customers and clients with their family law questions and I'm experienced in family law litigation.
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My ex-wife took my 6 year old son to witness a dog be

Customer Question

My ex-wife took my 6 year old son to witness a dog be euthanized (he witnessed the injections and dog actually die) in November 2015. He recently came home with graphic story depicting the experience and clear indications that he is still traumatized. I recently found a court case where a woman was found guilty of Child endangerment for allowing a 10 year old girl to watch a dog be injected (but the girl did not see the dog die) for euthanization. Here is the article: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/woman_convicted_of_child_endangerment_for_letting_girl_watch_dog_euthanasia/
A few facts:
I have proof that my 6 year old son witnessed both the injections and actual death of the dog.
I was not included in the decision that was independently made by his mother. I was only 2 miles away at the time this occurred, and would have been available to watch our son while she had the dog euthanized.
My son continues to be traumatized by this event. I have found a therapist to help him get through this emotionally.
His mother responded with: this is just part of life, it's normal.
We have a GAL who was also quite upset that this occurred, but is not sure how to handle it. She said she gave my ex-wife a strong warning, but it was not issued formally. I don't have any account of this "warning"
Since we have joint legal custody, she is required to allow me 50% decision making over all welfare based issues and also religious issues with our son. I am vehemently against euthanasia under any circumstances.
There are several other legitimate parenting problems with my ex-wife as well (Living with a violent man who has threatened me and my family and is permanently barred via court order from ever being in the presence of my son). This man is there on days when my son is not, and recently private investigator (legal and admissable GPS tracking) discovered that he was physically at her house several times (for only a few minutes at a time) while my son was also there.
QUESTION(S):
Because of the case precedence and also the continued trauma as a result of my ex-wifes decision, can this be argued in court as child endangerment?
Should my GAL have at a minimum, issued a written warning that is published to both parties and/or the court, so there is a published record?
My GAL is meeting me in person next week and has asked what course of action I would like her to take. Is it reasonable for me to ask for expanded parenting time until the endangerment issue and my ex-wife's live-in boyfriend situations are investigated?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Chris T., JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello. I'll be happy to assist you.

To answer your first question, even though there may be a precedent for this kind of conviction, it would be a very rare circumstance. Child endangerment usually requires some element of intent or recklessness. I'm not saying it was a good decision, but most DA's aren't interested in getting involved in parenting decisions like this. That's not to say it isn't worth a shot, but I am saying that I wouldn't get my hopes up for criminal charges, if I were you.

As far as what the GAL should have done, I would agree that a more formal warning would have been in order. I have a 6 year old, and I can't imagine doing something like that to him. It is, at a minimum, extremely bad parenting, and I can't see any justification for it. The GAL should have taken stronger actions, but that's a judgment call in large measure, and really not much you can do about it.

All that said, this does present a great opportunity for you to ask for more parenting time. Any judge would see that she either doesn't have the child's best interests at heart, or she has really bad judgment (or both). Either way, that is a great argument for you to get more parenting time or become the primary custodian of the child, both legal and physical. That would give you the ability to make most of the decisions for the child. Like I said, this kind of thing would argue very strongly that she's not a great decision maker, and puts you in a strong position.

I hope that answers your question. If not, feel free to ask follow up questions. If so, please remember to "Rate" my answer before you go. Good luck.

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