Let’s say that you are fighting your spouse in court for the custody of your child. Your child custody attorney is reputable and experienced, your own record is spotless, and there is no reason why you should not be granted legal custody of your child.
But when you arrive at the courthouse for the child custody hearing, your lawyer takes you aside and explains that your spouse has accused you of something heinous – abusing your own child.
Suddenly, your confidence evaporates. You’re innocent, but you know that it is virtually impossible “to prove a negative” – that is, to prove conclusively that you are not a child abuser.
HOW OFTEN ARE FALSE ACCUSATIONS MADE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES?
California divorce lawyers and judges frequently see false accusations of child abuse in child custody and divorce cases. The accuser will be your spouse, ex-spouse, or the child’s other parent if you were never married, hoping to gain an edge in the custody or divorce battle.
How can you defend yourself against a false accusation of child abuse? Especially if the custody of your child is at stake, you must be able to offer an effective defense that not only refutes the false accusation but also helps you to win your child custody battle.
Keep reading for a brief look at the problem of false child abuse accusations in divorces and custody disputes – and what you can do if you are the target of a false child abuse claim.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN A FALSE CHILD ABUSE CLAIM IS MADE?
Let’s face it. Any bogus child abuse accusation is going to mean trouble. A false child abuse accusation could trigger a police investigation, a restraining order, or the loss of child custody.
If you are accused of child abuse in a divorce or custody battle, you could even be arrested and charged with a crime. You could lose your job – and your good reputation. If you are not guilty of child abuse, you must fight the accusation – aggressively and decisively.
If you are involved in or expecting a divorce or child custody dispute in southern California, it is imperative to have the advice and representation that a family law attorney can provide.
Once a false accusation of child abuse has been made, an accuser in many cases will petition the court for a restraining order and/or for sole custody of the child.
Your attorney’s job at that point will be to cast doubt on the accusation, challenge the accuser’s motives, and if possible, prove that the abuse allegation is, in fact, false.
WHAT CAN BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A FALSE ABUSE ACCUSATION?
Here in California, several measures are in place that are designed to deter divorcing parents from making bogus accusations of child abuse.
For example, if a court finds that a parent lied about child abuse to improve the chances of gaining the child’s custody, the court will take this to mean that the dishonest spouse is not making the best interests of the child a top priority but is instead trying to manipulate the court.
If this is the court’s finding, the parent who made a false allegation may be allowed only limited and supervised visitation. The falsely accused parent can petition the court to have the accuser pay for the accused’s legal fees and other costs arising from the bogus accusation.
Subsequent to a divorce, a wrongly accused parent may also file a request for a modification of the custody order.
WHAT IS THE TOP PRIORITY FOR A PARENT WHO IS DIVORCING?
Divorces are often intense, emotional ordeals, but parents must place the best interests of their children above any other considerations.
When a divorcing or divorced parent makes a false claim of child abuse, it unfairly undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent, and it is also an attempt to exploit the court.
Which, as you might imagine, judges do not appreciate.
If you are divorcing and you are a parent – or if you are a parent who is already divorced – it never helps your children or your case to make a false accusation of child abuse against your spouse or ex-spouse.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE FALSELY ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE?
The most effective thing you can do to win the custody of your child or children is to have a skilled Cerritos family law attorney advocating aggressively on your behalf.
At the beginning of the divorce process, both parents start with joint custody rights and with the right to request sole custody, but the court’s priority in these cases will always be the best interests of the child or children.
WHAT MISTAKES COULD CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CHILD CUSTODY?
If you want legal custody of your child, avoid these mistakes:
1. alcohol or substance abuse or addiction
2. irrational or violent behavior
3. a felony conviction
4. disparaging comments in the child’s presence about the child’s other parent
5. false – or exaggerated – accusations against your child’s other parent
6. failing to heed good legal advice
A bitter, angry, or critical parent will be remembered by a judge, and if you’ve been angry or irate in the presence of social workers, teachers, or police officers, those persons could testify against you at a custody hearing.
Domestic violence and child abuse are real and serious problems in the state of California, and sometimes a child abuse charge made in a child custody dispute is a legitimate and true charge.
WHAT IF A CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATION IS TRUE?
If your child is genuinely at risk from his or her other parent, you must have the insights and sound advice of a family lawyer. Your attorney will help you obtain a restraining order, or if it’s appropriate, will help you file a police report.
Nothing is a higher priority than your child. A custody battle can be one of the most trying experiences of your life. A false allegation of child abuse can be devastating. You will need the advice of a knowledgeable family lawyer.
In Cerritos, an experienced family law attorney will help a parent avoid the mistakes discussed here and will provide the aggressive representation that a parent battling for child custody will need.
Especially if you are falsely accused of child abuse, you must have an attorney who has successfully dealt with such false accusations on behalf of previous clients. If your relationship with your child is at stake, nothing is more important.