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What is required to prove child neglect in court?

Denver, CO |

The neighbors in my apartment building called the cops on my husband for "child neglect." Stating basically that they heard slapping noises and what they thought was my husband cussing at our two boys (2 and 3 years old). They took my kids in the middle of the night on May 25th, and at the shelter hearing the judge allowed them to stay in protective custody on the condition they place them with family or friends. I wouldn't be worried about it if we lived anywhere else (we live in a town of less than 4000 in WY) but because of the small town politics I'm slightly concerned. I'm wondering what proof they would have to furnish in court to "prove" this happened.

The neighbors above us have been questioned by the cops every time the neighbors next door have called us in, and they have claimed each time they heard nothing. Also it was stated in the Police report that the neighbor that called us in opens their closet door (their closet is on the other side of the wall from my boys' bedroom) and steps inside to listen through the wall if they hear the kids crying. (Is that stalking or harassment?) They report "slapping noises", which I have told the police several times is both boys getting a spanking. The cops have never found anything the previous times they have shown up to back up the claims; the only thing they have ever documented was "red marks" which the boys' doctor called and told them was exzema. I guess I just don't understand how any of this works, or what they have to have? I just really want my kids back and none of this makes sense. We haven't done anything wrong.

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Attorney answers 4


You should post this in the WY section, as you will want a response from an attorney who is licensed in WY and knows WY law.

You can reach Dave Rich at (303) 886-2516 or Dave Rich is an attorney licensed in Colorado. Answering your questions does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts in your case, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.



I haven't found an attorney from WY on here. Every time I put something up from WY it doesn't get answered.

Scott Michael Swafford

Scott Michael Swafford


David though is absolutely correct - the standards for child neglect are driven at the state level, so what might constitute neglect and what evidence might be used to be able to establish neglect are all determined by state laws.


Mr. Rich is correct. It could potentially vary from state to state. Please repost on WY Avvo site.


I agree with the two previous answers. You need to consult with an attorney in Wyoming who is well versed in this area of the law. I can provide some general information only based upon my experiences in Colorado. It would be unusual for the police to take two young children in Metro Denver on the basis of the information you have provided in your question. If the apartment was dirty and disorganized, if there was evidence of substance or alcohol abuse, this would increase the chances of police interference. In Colorado, if a spanking leaves a red mark on a child, such a mark is usually sufficient to prove some level of child abuse. You can spank a child but you cannot leave a mark. If your children's doctor has previously identified eczema as the course of the redness, a letter from him/her might help with social services, but you will need him/her as a witness in court. It is very important for you to speak with a Wyoming attorney about this matter promptly.


The facts in your post seem to describe a claim of 'abuse' more so than 'neglect'.

For definitions of these terms, by state, see:

In family court - a preponderance of the evidence; in criminal court - proof beyond a reasonable doubt are required to 'prove' child neglect or abuse.

Physical Abuse
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
‘Abuse’ means inflicting or causing physical injury, harm, or imminent danger to the physical health or welfare of a child other than by accidental means, including excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment. ‘Physical injury’ means any harm to a child, including but not limited to disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ, skin bruising if greater in magnitude than minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment, bleeding, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, or substantial malnutrition.

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
The term ‘abuse’ includes malnutrition or substantial risk of harm by reason of intentional or unintentional neglect. ‘Neglect’ means a failure or refusal by those responsible for the child’s welfare to provide adequate care, maintenance, supervision, education, or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
The term ‘abuse’ includes the commission or allowing the commission of a sexual offense against a child, as defined by
Emotional Abuse
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
The term ‘abuse’ includes inflicting or causing mental injury or harm to the mental health or welfare of the child.
‘Mental injury’ means an injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by an
observable or substantial impairment in his or her ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior,
with due regard to his or her culture.
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
The term ‘abuse’ includes abandonment, unless the abandonment is a relinquishment substantially in accordance with §§
14-11-101 through 14-11-109.
Standards for Reporting
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-205
A report is required when a person knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected.
Persons Responsible for the Child
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
‘A person responsible for a child’s welfare’ includes:
• The child’s parent, noncustodial parent, guardian, custodian, stepparent, or foster parent
• Any other person, institution, or agency having the physical custody or control of the child
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-202
Treatment given in good faith by spiritual means alone through prayer by a duly accredited practitioner, in accordance
with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, is not child neglect for that reason alone.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

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