How to Defend Against False Child Abuse Claims During a Child Custody Case
Sadly, the family court hears more than its fair share of child abuse accusations. More frequent in high-conflict custody battles where tempers are already on edge and arguments escalate at a rapid pace, parties feel the strain of the situation and may be tempted to make unwarranted accusations. Parents in tense, custody cases sometimes believe that accusing the other parent of child abuse will increase their chances of winning child custody, but the strategy is flawed at best.
Judges do err on the side of caution regarding the safety of children, but judges also do not generally limit parenting rights unless it is vital. Judges are also well aware that false accusations of child abuse are a frequent occurrence, so all claims are thoroughly investigated. If a judge determines that the allegation was wrong and that it was an attempt to influence the child custody decision, they may order the accusing parent to pay court costs to the other parent or modify the custody agreement in favor of the accused parent.
If You Have Been Falsely Accused of Child Abuse:
1. Comply with the Investigation: It will be uncomfortable but be as cooperative as possible. If possible, gather evidence to support your case such as statements from family members, co-workers, friends, or neighbors. A helpful statement will focus on your loving relationship with your child and assurances that you would never harm them. It may feel like a game of “he said, she said,” but having others show support for you can help the judge see that the claims are false. Let others close to you know what is going on with you and encourage them to speak openly and honestly about your parenting when they are interviews by child protective services or the court.
2. Don’t Panic Over the Court’s Initial Reaction: The court’s immediate response after an allegation of child abuse is to err on the side of caution. Judges do not want to remove children from their parents, but when it comes to any domestic violence and child custody, the proper course of action may seem harsh. The action taken will depend on the allegations made and various other factors. A judge may suspend visitation or custody of the accused parent pending a complete investigation. When the investigation is complete, and there was no evidence of abuse, the accused parent’s rights are typically reinstated. In cases where the judge determines that the accusation was unfounded, they may order the accusing parents to cover court costs for the other parent.
If you are facing child abuse accusations, consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. If you need assistance with your child custody case, please get in touch with one of the experienced divorce lawyers at The Maggio Law Firm so we can advocate on your behalf.
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