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.

Comments

  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.
    http://forum.helpwithsituation.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=12126

  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.

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