ATTORNEY'S FEES AND SANCTIONS FOR FALSE CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS
When and how does the court award attorney's fees for false child abuse allegations?
False Child Abuse Allegations
Attorney's Fees as Sanctions for False Child Abuse Allegations
Family Code 3027.1 states:
“(a) If a court determines, based on the investigation described in Section 3027 or other evidence presented to it, that an accusation of child abuse or neglect made during a child custody proceeding is false and the person making the accusation knew it to be false at the time the accusation was made, the court may impose reasonable money sanctions, not to exceed all costs incurred by the party accused as a direct result of defending the accusation, and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in recovering the sanctions, against the person making the accusation. For the purposes of this section, “person” includes a witness, a party, or a party’s attorney.
(b) On motion by any person requesting sanctions under this section, the court shall issue its order to show cause why the requested sanctions should not be imposed. The order to show cause shall be served on the person against whom the sanctions are sought and a hearing thereon shall be scheduled by the court to be conducted at least 15 days after the order is served.
(c) The remedy provided by this section is in addition to any other remedy provided by law.”
What happens when a parent knowingly makes false allegations of child abuse or neglect against the other parent? Hopefully, the court vindicates the falsely accused parent and orders supervised visits or some other restricted visitation against the false accuser. But in addition to that, California Family Code 3027.1 gives the victimized parent the ability to seek attorney fees and costs against the person who made the knowingly false allegation.
Notice the following elements:
1. The accusation of child abuse or neglect must be false.
2. The person who made the accusation knew the accusation was false at the time he or she made the accusation.
3. A person includes the party, the party's attorney and even a witness. That means the falsely accused parent can under the proper circumstances seek attorney fees and costs against the accusing parent's attorney or even a witness who knowingly made the false allegation.
Family Code 3027.1 is not the only way to seek attorneys fees against the parent who makes false allegations but I believe it is one of the most powerful.
An experienced attorney's advice is critical in such cases because such motions are complicated and have time limitations attached to them.