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Unraveling the Truth: When Parents Face False Domestic Violence Allegations in Custody Case

Face False Domestic Violence Allegations in Custody Case

When access to your children is on the line, false allegations can be incredibly harmful. Unfortunately, some parents are willing to lie and manipulate as a means of gaining an upper hand in family court. While many of these false allegations can be rebutted using evidence and testimony, the short-term and long-term consequences of false allegations during custody battles should not be underestimated.

Given the high stakes of family court cases, anyone who believes they are the victim of false allegations in the family court should seek legal representation from a law firm that understands how to identify and address false domestic violence allegations and other false allegations. One of the most serious allegations someone can face is that they have committed domestic violence.

Why Are False Allegations Prevalent in Family Court?

Of all the types of court cases, family court cases are often the most fraught with emotion. Spouses who once lived together peacefully can quickly develop animosity toward their former partners. Unfortunately, spouses often view false allegations as a tool for gaining an advantage in court. Once one party has been accused of domestic violence or child abuse, the accuser may believe they can leverage those false statements to gain a favorable outcome in court.

Sometimes, spouses dredge up lingering emotions like resentment and jealousy and bring those feelings to a divorce or child custody case. Others simply want revenge for a perceived past slight. False allegations in court are typically used to manipulate the court’s rulings over child support or asset divisions.

In child custody cases, one parent may use false allegations to make the other parent appear unfit to parent. Courts have an obligation to take matters of child safety seriously. If there is no basis for an allegation, the mere insinuation that one parent is a potential danger to their children could lead the court to take precautionary steps.

Parents know how damaging certain allegations can be, and one of the most damaging accusations someone can face in family court is that they engaged in domestic violence.

Lies can also be used to hide assets and properties so the courts are unable to divide an estate equitably. Even when false allegations are disproven, the lies can have harmful, long-lasting effects on those who are falsely accused.

use false allegations to make parent appear unfit

Harm Caused By False Allegations

Even when there is evidence that suggests the criminal charges are baseless, the criminal justice system moves slowly. It can take several months or years for a defendant to clear their name. The family court case may be resolved long before the criminal charges are dropped.

Although our system of justice presumes defendants to be innocent until they are proven guilty, many parents who face criminal charges are not given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to family court. Even worse, criminal charges could be the result of one parent wanting to gain the upper hand in family court.

Examples of False Allegations in Child Custody Cases

In a custody case, a false allegation could be about anything that shows the other parent in a bad light to the court.

Some of the most common types of false allegations to be aware of include the following:

Domestic Violence and Potential Criminal Charges

The weaponization of false allegations in family court can lead some parents to allege they are the victims of domestic abuse. Being arrested for domestic abuse can tarnish or ruin someone’s career, resulting in the revocation of professional licenses, job loss, and more. In family court, criminal charges of domestic abuse make the parent facing charges look like they are a danger to the other parent and potentially to the children.

The courts are generally cautious when dealing with allegations of domestic violence, as acts of violence in the household can have long-term effects on children. Children who witness violence in the home may develop issues with physical and mental health, as well as behavioral problems, such as aggression, anxiety, or depression.

Domestic violence does not have to be strictly due to physical violence. Many relationships and marriages end in heated disagreements that can involve shouting, screaming, shoving, and other acts that release anger. Those heated situations can often be misused by one side to gain an advantage in family court.

Stalking or Harassment

One example could be stalking or harassment charges. Parents who recently broke up can get into heated arguments. If one parent tells police that their ex refuses to stop communicating, the other parent could be charged with harassment. Stalking is another crime that is commonly prosecuted in Arizona.

When a couple or one-time couple has children together, there’s often a good reason why one parent may stay aware of where the other parent is. Police may not dig deep into the background of the situation when listening to one side allege that the other is stalking.

Children who witness violence in the home may develop issues

Allegations of Child Abuse and Neglect

During child custody cases, false allegations of child abuse and neglect occur all too often.

When a child is younger and unable to articulate what may or may not happen, one parent can use photos of a bruise or red mark to allege that the other parent physically or sexually abused their child. One parent may say that the young child made an “outcry” for help.

Neglect is another type of child abuse that can come up in court. After a child exchange, one parent may notice that their child is dirty or has unclean clothes. The parent may then use that incident to allege that it is part of a pattern of neglect by the other parent.

There are rarely consequences for baseless calls to child safety departments where incident reports can later be used in family court even as those cases remain under investigation. State agencies are often overwhelmed with complaints, and clearing your name can become a tedious effort.

The allegations may come up during court testimony when one parent makes an overt allegation or infers that the other parent abused their child. Any claim of child abuse is taken seriously by authorities, both inside and outside the court. No judge wants to be seen as complicit if the allegations turn out to be true. For that reason, anyone facing claims of child abuse may face an uphill battle in clearing their name.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is another common false allegation made in custody cases. Commonly consumed legal substances like alcohol can even be used as the basis for substance abuse allegations. It can be hard to disprove verbal statements alleging intoxication while around children. Even when one parent was acting responsibly, and within the bounds of the law, all it takes is false statements to raise concerns that one parent has a drinking problem.

Marijuana was recently legalized for recreational use, but there is still a stigma surrounding the drug. This may create a circumstance where one parent stretches the truth or outright lies in an effort to portray the other parent as a drug abuser. Out of precaution, a judge may order the accused parent to undergo drug tests and other precautionary measures in response to the allegations. Many judges would rather err on the side of caution rather than accidentally place a child in a dangerous situation.

Mental Illness

A child custody battle can test the limits of what parents can endure for their children. The mental stress of facing allegations can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and uncertainty. Any outburst or loss of your cool can lead your soon-to-be ex to allege that you are “unstable” or “crazy.” The goal of these accusations is to portray you as being a danger to yourself and to your children.

Combat suggestions that you are mentally unfit

One solution could be to undergo a psychological evaluation voluntarily, but even the act of being tested for a mental health condition is enough to call into question your mental well-being. One way you can combat suggestions that you are mentally unfit to parent is by hiring a family law attorney who understands the weaponization of false allegations in family court.

About Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a common and damaging pattern of behavior that can surface during high-conflict divorces. Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to turn their child against the other parent. Those efforts can be subtle, such as suggestions that the other parent does not want to be involved in the child’s life, or more overtly.

Manipulation plays a key role in parental alienation. The acts are intended to create distance between the child and the other parent. The alienator may interfere or try to obstruct communication between the child and the other parent. The alienator may violate temporary court orders by now allowing their child to speak or call the other parent.

Anyone involved in a high-conflict divorce should be aware of the signs of parental alienation. The efforts to alienate a child usually coincide with other false allegations made in court. Anyone who is willing to provide false statements in court is capable of engaging in parental alienation.

Parental alienation is emotionally abusive for children. The damage caused by parents who engage in those patterns of destructive behavior can last years or longer. In many cases, those efforts backfire when children realize, sometimes many years later, that they are the target of manipulation.

Defenses Against False Allegations of Domestic Violence

No matter what type of accusation you are facing, the best legal argument against those false assertions on your character uses evidence and testimony. Your attorney can put your accuser on the defensive by asking a series of questions that call into question whether you committed the alleged acts.

Defenses Against False Allegations of Domestic Violence

When people lie, they often have a hard time keeping their facts straight. An experienced attorney will know how to question and cross-examine the other parent as a means of allowing them to slip up on the stand. Early on in your case, it is important that you are open and honest with your lawyer. Every detail matters. Collect and preserve all forms of evidence that you can.

Useful forms of evidence could include emails, text messages, social media posts, and other forms of communication. Statements from third parties can also be very useful. As you and your attorney are able to call into question the credibility of your soon-to-be ex, the courts may ultimately see that you are the more trustworthy parent. Although destructive, false allegations have a way of ultimately backfiring on the people who were willing to lie about their spouse.

Work With a Lawyer Who Understands How To Combat False Allegations

False allegations can cause serious damage to loving parents in court, in their professional lives, and in their personal lives. Without the right legal representation, those false statements could stick and potentially lead to reduced parental rights and less time with your children. In addition, you may face career, personal, and social ramifications. If you have become the target of false domestic violence allegations, you can rely on an experienced family law attorney to use evidence to refute those allegations.

Allegations of domestic violence can be particularly damaging to your reputation and career. Fortunately, there can be consequences for people who falsely accuse others as a means of gaining the upper hand in family court. To schedule a consultation with an attorney dedicated to protecting your rights and dismantling the weaponization of false allegations, contact Desert Legal Group today.

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  1. Peterson, S. (2018, February). Effects. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types/intimate-partner-violence/effects
  2. Parental Alienation | Psychology Today. (n.d.). Www.psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/parental-alienation