Falsely Accused of Child Abuse in a Divorce? Then Read This Immediately

Falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce

If you are falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce within the State of California, step one is reading this article and step two is calling us.

Parents who are falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce often feel distraught and helpless. After all, it’s not that difficult to “make” an allegation. It takes a declaration under oath and a description of the abuse. Stop stressing. Our lawyers know how to win child custody cases that involve false allegations of abuse.

Too many times, allegations of child abuse amount to he said, she said situations, especially when the child is young and unable to speak for him or herself.

California’s public policy states that children must have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. One of the exceptions to that rule is when allegations of abuse or neglect are made by one parent against the other and those allegations are found to be true by a preponderance of the evidence (commonly called the “tipping of the scales” or a “51% standard”).

But what if that burden of proof is not met? Does the parent who was falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce have rights? Can the parent who was falsely accused of child abuse in the divorce obtain custody of the child or children as a result? What about the attorney fees spent by the parent who was falsely accused? These are the questions that we help answer in this article.

Supervised visits for the parent who made false accusations of child abuse in a divorce

If a family court finds that a parent made a false allegation of abuse or neglect, the court can order supervised visitation or limit the accusing parent’s custody or visitation so long as it finds by substantial evidence that the parent made the allegations with the intent to interfere with the other parent’s lawful contact with the child.

This includes reports of physical abuse that were made in bad faith as well as reports of sexual abuse that the parent should have known or knew or false at the time they were made. Parents who are falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce, especially those who have been repeatedly accused, may find that is the only way to put a stop to the allegations.

Burden of proof when falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce

The burden of proof that an allegation made is false is not a small one.

Courts cannot order supervised visitation or limit a parent’s rights in the event of a false allegation of abuse if the allegation was based on a reasonable belief that the child or children were in fact being abused and especially if that abuse was corroborated. In other words, just because the family court did not find an allegation to be true does not automatically mean there was substantial evidence the allegation was made with the intent to deprive the other parent’s lawful contact.

The person who claims the false abuse has the burden of showing the falsity. In such situations, the first question is who is making the abuse allegations? Is it the child? Is it the parent? Is it a third person?

False accusations of child abuse in a divorce can lead to hefty monetary sanctions

In addition to the family court’s discretion to order supervised visitation or limited visitation, the court could also order reasonable monetary sanctions against a parent who made the false allegations of child abuse in a divorce. The sanction cannot exceed the entire cost that was incurred by the falsely accused parent in defending the accusations. This cost includes reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in defending the allegations as well as the fees incurred in seeking the sanctions.

The sanctions are generally sought by the falsely accused parent against the accusing parent by filing a formal request for order and laying out for the court the facts that show the nature of the false allegations.

It’s important to note that to seek the sanctions under California Family Code 3027.1 (the code section that authorizes these sanctions against the parent who made the false allegations) or family code section 271 (for causing unnecessary litigation), the court need not have found the falsity of the allegations in the underlying custody hearing. It is enough to show that the wrongfully accused parent prevailed at the underlying custody hearing and the falsity can be showed during the sanctions motion.

There are time limitations that are governed by both statute and case law so if you intend to bring such a motion or you are facing such a motion, it is important that you know the time limitations involved.

You are not guilty until proven innocent when falsely accused of child abuse in a family law case

Some believe there is a guilty until proven innocence standard by family law judges. That isn’t necessarily true.

Family courts can be conservative and err on the side of caution in the beginning when such allegations are made, but that is exactly why an experienced Orange County child custody attorney can help you.

Even though the court, when there are allegations of child abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse, must take reasonable steps to protect a child’s safety until an investigation can be completed, our experienced family law attorneys can help you, if you are being falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce, to gather evidence, witnesses and information to ensure that any limitations to your custody time with the child or children is not any longer than necessary. We do this by:

1. Investigating the false allegations of abuse in the divorce immediately by interviewing the witnesses and gathering documentary evidence;

2. Taking the deposition, when necessary, of the accusing spouse to find out the specific nature and extent of the allegations and discovering inconsistencies and falsities in the spouse’s claims;

3. Taking the deposition of the accusing spouse’s witnesses to determine what they really know and can testify to regarding the false allegations;

4. Asking the family court to order a private child custody evaluation which will include psychological testing and evaluation of the allegations;

5. Asking the family court to order an internal child custody investigator through the court investigators

6. Working closely with the Orange County child protective services agency, if they are investigating the allegations.

Having the right Orange County child custody lawyer can make a significant positive difference in your case if you are being falsely accused of child abuse in a divorce.

Does that sound like your case? Then you owe it to yourself to contact us today.


  1. says

    I’m wondering how much say children of different ages have in these allegations. What if a child is assigned to a certain visitation schedule and doesn’t want to go? I worked with a little boy who had been traumatized most of his life. He lived in a foster home with about 8 other children, and his behavior was the most uncontrolled of any child I have ever worked with. His foster mother told us that he had had regular visits with his mother for several years even though he cried and tried to run when she came to pick him up and then he returned all beaten and bruised. It made no sense to me that the courts would continue to order visitation under these circumstances.

    • says

      Foster home children are a different issue altogether. In the context of family law, age does matter. Family Code 3042 specifically addresses that issue. Thank you for commenting, Penny. Hope to see you around more.

  2. Pokrov says

    A special petition is developed in order to help the families whose children have been taken away due to falsified accusation by the SPC (Child Protective Services) employees. As more and more families become victims of false accusations against them, we believe that such a petition is necessary in order bring justice in the country. In order to have working material, social service employees need more children to show the government that they need money. Following that goal, they falsify the accusations and take children from normal families. This may happen to any family. The petition will require the corrections in the law so that families and their children can be protected from the crime committed by social service employees.

  3. RON MATTHEWS says

    I’m having similar, false accusation problems, but I’m in NY.(Long Island) Can you refer me to a GOOD Family LAW attorney?
    Thank you.

  4. Concerned Parent says

    Great article. What you have described is what I am enduring. False child abuse allegations have been made twice by the other parent to sway the court’s custody decision ,all abuse referrals unfounded. Do you only work with Orange County residents? Or Los Angeles County as well ?

  5. Fed up Stepmom says

    I am in a somewhat similar situation, except I am the step mother. The child’s mother doesnt like me and is constantly accusing me of yelling and hitting on the child. She previously accused my husband of touching the child then decided to move on to me I guess. She coaches the child to say I have hit her and records it. I’m frustrated over the situation because of course it’s false but now she’s threatening to take it to court. I don’t want to lose our visitation because that’s her ultimate goal. There has to be some kind of repercussions for this behavior. Just want to live peacefully without the drama.

    • says

      This is a serious situation. Your husband should talk to an experienced lawyer immediately. If the case is in Orange County, call us. If not, please immediately consult with an experienced family law attorney close to you.

  6. Jamie says

    I am in San Diego. Father mad domestic violence during the divorce, after I refused to waive CS. Mediator sent it to CWS and it was screen out. I have been negotiating with him about change in custody, three years after separating. I went to get my children in another county at their request. He has yet again made another domestic violence allegation getting a TRO. In order to get the upper hand in the upcoming RFO, I had planned to file. Do you have a referral?

  7. William says

    During my allotted time in the summer, my children’s mom wanted me to allow them to go to a BBQ and because I had my own plans I told her it wouldn’t not be doable. Enraged that I told her no she then accused of making death threats to my children. My kids were removed from my home by the police. My lawyer put in a show cause order. The children’s mom had no proof of any such thing. So they were immediately returned to me but not before going to the BBQ she wanted them to attend. Children services did their own investigation. Their investigation results were unfounded. The only issue my children had with me was me having them due chores but said they loved spending time with me. My children’s mother then withdrew all her violations and petitions. There were no ramifications or reprimands for her false accusations. Can I pursue criminal charges for her false accusations or bring her back into family court? I reside in NY. Thank you in advance.

  8. jose says

    I recently served my daughters mother and she is not complying with the drop off and pick up location. she also falsely accuse me of abuse and now she wont let me see my daughter unless i agree to a supervise visit. im the one who filed for sole custody because the mother was only seen our daughter once a week.

    what actions can i take since she is neglecting me from taking my daughter the days im suppose to and for been falsely accuse. my daughter is three will they make her testify. can i request she testify. im also scared the mother might tell my daughter to say that i hit her or something like that.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Jose, your situation sounds like it has a lot of layers – a very young child, a mother who you state is making false allegations of abuse and lots of conflict. An attorney’s advice and representation is important here but we don’t give that advice in a comment to an article. That would not be appropriate. If you are interested in hiring an attorney and your case is in Orange County or L.A., you can contact us for an affordable strategy session.

  9. Worried Aunt says

    Hello, I was wondering if there is some way to have a psychological evaluation court ordered on a mother (in Los Angeles or Kern County)? I am concerned for the health and welfare of my nieces (4 & 5). There mother has a past of attempted suicide erratic behavior. The family has all attempted to help and the father of the children has attempted counseling 3 times, but she always walks out insisting there is nothing wrong with her and that everyone is against her. Recently took off with the children when she (over a week or so) abused her children (hitting with the buckle end of a belt leaving marks) and the family dog (she poured hot water on his back). She took the kids while the father was a work after a report was finally filed against her. She fled with them to LA county and quickly file an abuse charge against the father stating that he abused her. I have been a witness to her abuse over a long period of time against my brother. I told him to go to the cops, but he didn’t. When she escalated to abusing the family dog and the children, he then went to the sheriff. He was granted temp full custody until a later court date, but the CPS in LA county told him the mothers charge of domestic violence superseded his Kern county orders. He waited it out and went to LA court where a judge dropped all charges against him and ordered the mother to hand over the kids. She said Kern county has jurisdiction and the mother must follow court orders from that county. The father was given full custody orders again, but she fled again. The CPS in LA county is again saying they cannot tell him where she. CPS is saying she does not have to hand over the children , that they do not have to enforce that court order. The mother is extremely unstable, and I believe is in need of a psychological evaluation. I am terrified for her safety as well as the children. I feel they are in imminent danger. We have all informed CPS of this, but they just respond with “the children are safe and the mother does not have to turn them over to the father.” I have known the mother for 10 years and I have tried to get her help, but I am always told she cannot be forced a evaluation. She will not go willingly. This situation terrifies me as the mother has been able to ignore two separate court orders and CPS has been assisting the mother in ways that do not seem legal?? Do you know of a petition or any form that can be filed in a case with such circumstance? Can CPS hold/hide the children as they are? (also, mother and father are not married if that matters)

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      I understand the situation has been a stressful one but unfortunately we cannot give advice on what should be done in a comment to an article. That would not be appropriate as this is not the place for attorney-client communications. In a case like this, we would also need to meet with the father and go through a detailed history with him to find out how it got to this point. We would also need two review any current court orders. Our firm does not handle in Kern County so if that is where the case is, please consult with attorneys who handle matters there. Also, from what you wrote, I am not clear if there has ever been a family law case or not. We don’t handle dependency cases (where CPS takes over and dependency court (sometimes called children’s court) takes over.

  10. George says

    My son lives in Oakland and recently notified his wife that he wants a divorce. They agreed for the sake of their little 3 year old daughter that they would part amicably. A couple of days ago is wife move out of their house with their daughter, did not notify him and accused him of inappropriatley touching their daughter. This was based she said on something the daughter did to her while she was undressed. My son has raised his daughter since she was a baby due to his wife being an investment banker and being gone all day and my son has a career that allows him the flexibility to be with her most of the day.
    My son has done nothing to provoke this charge and has tried contacting an attorney in his area but has not had his calls returned as of today. Is there any advice you can give and is there an attorney you would recomend for him to call?

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hello George, thank you for commenting. Unfortunately, we don’t have any referrals in the Oakland area.

  11. Eric says

    Why don’t courts even question false allegations, my son’s mother repeatedly has made them & they always turn out to be unfounded, she has a record that includes fraud, assault, failure to appear at least 4 times, is diagnosed as bi-polar, & owes years of past due child support. None of these issues are readily addressed, after 3 years of not paying they finally dragged her into court & ordered her to pay. The support dept didn’t even take her license for her delinquency. Why is it repeat accusations that are always found to be empty never has any recourse? Sometimes because she’s bi polar just reading her declaration is enough to see it’s not based in reality. Why is it she portrays herself as the victim while also having a record & being in violation of custody more times than I have digits & the courts don’t even ask “is this true?”

    It gets better. By the way I’m a business owner & have been a teacher, I got a few traffic violations on my record.

    Last time we went to court without question or even giving me an opportunity to say my part the court believed her & awarded custody to her. Then guess what CPS found that yet again I haven’t abused my child at all. The court also has not given me all the paper work that comes along with a ruling & the previous mediation where a written recommendation was to made ready for the court. We had attended mediation twice. The first one was normal & the mediator didn’t buy the story hook line & sinker, the 2nd mediation I didn’t even get to talk to the mediator.

    It’s too bad I’ve been a single father that raised my disabled so until about 3 weeks ago. Being a single parent of a disabled child basically keeps you strapped for cash. This will change over time if I don’t get my son, but in the moment I just want visitation.

    I guess the courts think whats right for a child is to believe without any examination or counter argument a mother’s word.

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Eric, for every situation like yours, I can name 100 others where the other parent didn’t get away with any of it. Every case is different and the advocate the person chooses can make a big difference. Our firm has obtained orders to take custody completely away from parents who have made false allegations and had parents held in contempt for violation of support or custody orders. We have never had what you stated happen to any of our clients. Where was your case in California? Orange County? I am sorry to hear you have been through what you have written. But your last sentence about what the Court thinks or does is totally inconsistent with our experience.

  12. Neg says

    Hi Farzad,

    My boyfriend has been allegedly accused of abusing his son whom he adores and has very very limited time with him. Accusations happened right after he filed for more custody, not to mention that his custody has been rocky road from the start. His current attorney is a family law attorney and is very professional but I doubt she knows how to deal with this very specific issue. Do you have jurisdictions in El Dorado county (northern California) or can you refer us to someone of your field of experience? His current attorney said no matter what there is no guaranty that his name will get cleared. I’m having a hard time accepting that comment.

    Thank you,

    • B. Robert Farzad says

      Hi Neg, we generally don’t take on matters outside of Orange County anymore and I don’t have a referral for your boyfriend. I don’t know any lawyers in El Dorado County that I would trust enough to refer to you.

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