Please call us if you have questions or if you require legal representation. Our telephone number is 617 366-2200
The lawyers at Bassil, Klovee & Budreau have represented families and children for many years in a variety of contexts. We have represented children in juvenile courts charged with criminal offenses as well as Person in Need of Services (PINS) cases. Janice Bassil and James Budreau have represented and continue to represent juveniles charged with murder who are in adult court as well as those charged with lesser crimes in juvenile court. We have also represented families and children in care and protection petitions and those individuals involved with the Department of Children and Families. We have represented children in divorce cases who needed to have a voice in the Family and Probate Court. We believe that, when appropriate, children should have a voice in court proceedings and we strive to listen to and represent the interests of children to the best of our ability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I suspect that my child is being physically or sexually abused by the other parent?
The accusation of sexual abuse of a child is one of the most difficult issues that can arise in a divorce. The very first step that you should take if you suspect your child is being sexually abused is to contact the child’s pediatrician. If the pediatrician believes that abuse has occurred based upon his or her findings, he or she is required by law to make a report to the Department of Children and Families “DCF” (formerly the Department of Social Services, “DSS”). Doctors (as well as teachers and therapists) are mandated reporters of child abuse and they will make what is known as a 51A report under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 119, section 51(a). Thereafter, DCF is charged with investigating the matter within seven days.
In the interim, your child’s pediatrician may refer you to a medical or mental health specialist with expertise in treating victims of sexual abuse. It is also very important that you obtain an attorney with experience in this field.
It is likely that DCF will request that you obtain a restraining order [see Abuse Prevention Orders above] barring contact between the child and the suspected abuser, or take other steps to ensure the safety of the children involved. DCF may also refer the matter to the local district attorney for criminal prosecution in district or superior court, which could occur simultaneously with your divorce or custody action in probate and family court. This will depend on the facts of each case, and to some extent, the age of the victim(s).
The probate and family court is likely to appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the allegation of sexual abuse so that the Court may make an informed decision when faced with deciding whether parenting time should occur between the alleged abuser and the child, and if so, under what circumstances. Frequently in such situations, the Court will order that parenting time be supervised.
If allegations of sexual abuse are made in bad faith, the probate and family court will have serious concerns about the ability of the accusing parent to act in the best interests of the child.
What do I do if I receive notice from DCF that a report of sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect has been made against me?
If you are already involved in a divorce proceeding, you should immediately inform your attorney and provide a copy of the letter from DCF regarding the report. If you do not have an attorney, it is recommended that you retain one who has experience in this area. Your attorney can best advise you how to prepare for meetings with DCF and to what extent you should participate in the process. If you have also been charged criminally in connection with the allegations, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney.
While DCF completes their investigation, you can make efforts to work out a parenting plan schedule with the other parent, either through the probate and family court or through attorneys, which ensures that safety concerns are met while allowing you to have contact with your child(ren).
Each case is fact specific, which is why it is a good idea to consult with an attorney who has experience with domestic relations, DCF and/or criminal defense.