Part of responsible parenting requires knowing the persons that your child is exposed to, at least to the fullest extent possible. While it is not always possible to predict or prevent future events, there are several things that parents can do to protect their children from being harmed by another, many of which apply not only to dating and cohabitation situations, but to other circumstance where your child is entrusted or exposed to another (i.e. caregivers), including:
Check Court Records. The clerk of courts provides online access to court records in most counties. When searching records for a particular person, it is important to check (1) the county that person resides in; (2) surrounding counties, and (3) counties that the person previously resided in.
Run a Background Check. There a number of resources through which parents can obtain information on a person. Backgrounds checks often include criminal history, prior residences, employment history, and in many cases even information regarding a person’s family or relatives. There are numerous providers of this type service to be found online.
Sexual Predator Check. Parents can search the National Sexual Offender Public Registry (NSOPR), which provides access to nationwide information through a variety of search tools.
Other Search Methods. Parents can also perform a variety of other searches, such as checking public property records, running google searches, or checking social media sites, for the purpose of verifying a person’s identity, as well as confirming the truth/accuracy of a person’s statements/claims.
Speak with a Mental Health Professional. In many cases, parents may also find it beneficial to speak with a mental health professional, particularly one that has experience in working with children, preferably before introducing their child to any romantic interest and definitely prior to cohabitating. For more on this topic, see ‘Protecting Your Child’s Mental Health in Dating & Cohabitation.’
Speak with a Legal Professional. Due to the potential impact on parental rights, and in some cases even criminal consequences, that can occur when a child is harmed as a result of parental dating or cohabitation, parents should seek advice from a family law attorney whenever there is cause for concern.
If you are a parent and have a question, or need legal assistance in a matter involving child custody, the Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC are here to help you with any family law needs that you may have.