Understanding How ACEs Can Impact Child Custody

Separating from your significant other when you have children involved can be difficult. Many parents worry about the level of care and treatment their child receives while in the care of their ex-partner — especially if their child returns from custody visits behaving differently.

If you have noticed that your child is acting anxious, aggressive, or withdrawn after visiting their other parent, you have a right to be concerned. Not all forms of abuse cause bumps and bruises, but here’s how you can investigate possible mistreatment and create a strong case in court.


What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (otherwise known as ACEs) explore the impact of abuse, neglect, and household challenges that children face prior to the age of 18.


Here’s a breakdown of the three ACE categories according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):


  • Abuse:
    • Emotional
    • Physical
    • Sexual
  • Neglect:
    • Emotional
    • Physical
  • Household Challenges:
    • Household member is incarcerated
    • Household member experiences mental illness
    • Household member struggles with substance abuse
    • Parents have divorced (or separated, if never married)
    • Witnessing abuse towards mother


Unfortunately, children who have experienced even one of these adverse events are at risk of developing physical and mental health issues later in life. In fact, an ACE score of 6+ can decrease an individual’s life expectancy by 20 years.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges recognizes the CDC research and aims to educate more judges and law professionals on the significant impact ACEs have on children.

While ACEs are not the only factor that can influence child custody, documentation of adverse events may be helpful in the eyes of the law.


What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Experiencing ACEs

If you are concerned about the quality of care your child is experiencing while residing in the home of your ex-partner, you may have a case to reduce custody time or mandate supervised visits. Consider contacting one of the law professionals at Hickey & Hull to discuss if you have a case.

In addition, document everything. This means keeping track of anytime your child says something alarming, every time they return from custody time with your ex behaving oddly, and taking pictures of new bumps or bruises. Be sure to date all of your documentation, as this may prove helpful during your custody battle.



Lastly, it may be beneficial to seek out a child psychologist. If your kid is experiencing adverse events in their life, a psychologist can help your child navigate their complex emotions and experiences.


Consult Hickey & Hull Law Partners For A Professional Opinion

If you’re wondering if you have a legal avenue for reduced or supervised custody visits, contact the legal professionals at Hickey & Hull. Clients can use our live online chat or contact one of our five Arkansas offices (located in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Mena, Rogers, or Russellville) to arrange an appointment.

When you suspect potential abuse occurring during mandated custody of your child, don’t wait. Hickey & Hull Law Partners are dedicated to helping our clients and fighting for the safety of their children.