My colleague is correct in her assessment of your situation. In addition, a judge is not listed in the Georgia State Code as being required to report a suspected case of child abuse to DFCS. If indeed you think there is, without question, an issue of child abuse, evaluate carefully what DFCS might be able to do for you. In general, I think a guardian ad litem in your custody proceeding may afford you a better outcome than getting DFCS involved. Procedurally, DFCS would investigate, talk to the child and any witnesses, and decide if there was a reason to open a case. When a case is opened, DFCS is limited by the circumstances. For instance, if you are the primary custodian, the case will be opened on *you* and they might ask you to voluntarily sign a safety plan or a case plan. Remember, both of those are voluntary. A willingness to sign a safety plan is generally seen as a good faith effort on your part to work with DFCS. However, they cannot force you to sign a case plan without a finding that the child is in some way deprived. I would strongly suggest that you speak with a capable local attorney (or several) to find someone who can best meet your needs and assist you through this difficult custody situation.
I would be happy to speak with you if you would like.
Most (if not all) of your questions require a person to tell you how your judge is going to rule. Unfortunately, that can only be determined by the judge. Only the decision makers knows what type of evidence he/she will allow and/or require to prove abuse. It would even be speculative to "outline" what steps the judge will take. He/She may choose to assign a Guardian ad Litem, assign a CASA, require an evaluation by a mental health provider, speak with the child, etc.
If you are truly concerned that your child is being abused by the other parent, it is in his best interest that you prepare and provide EVERYTHING in your power to keep him safe. Additionally (and perhaps most importantly), it would be in your best interest (and your child's best interest) to discuss everything with an attorney with experience in your county. A child's safety is too important to rely on the anonymous and general recommendations that this forum is limited to. I highly recommend that you engage the assistance of an attorney. If you cannot afford one, you can contact Georgia Legal Services Program to see if you qualify for free assistance.
I wish you and your family much luck in the future.
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