Fathers rights in California often involves dads who have been falsely accused of child abuse. When fathers are falsely accused, they are often confused as to what has driven their spouse or, if the parents are not married, the mother of the child to make such false allegations. While there is no perfect answer to this question, any parent (mother or father) who makes false allegations of abuse typically does so because that parent knows that the history of abuse is a serious consideration in any child custody proceeding in California.
But that is where fathers rights and what a father does in the face of false allegations becomes so important. Is a father falsely accused of child abuse content to just beat the allegations and go back to a joint custody arrangement? Or does the father believe it is better for the child or children to take custody away from the parent who falsely accused him?
In this article, we are going to address the issue of taking custody away from the parent who made the false allegations and seeking attorney fees (sanctions) against that parent. In other words, we are going to answer the question that plagues a lot of fathers who are falsely accused – “how do I get child custody?” Our attorneys believe that false allegations of abuse, whether made by a father or mother, often justify a change in custody and parenting time (visitation) because that is the primary way to avoid additional false allegations.
Fathers Rights in California and the Family Code.
Just as California Family Code 3011 states that the court must consider any history of abuse by any parent seeking custody and that abuse includes child abuse, the California Family Code and law recognizes that false allegations of child abuse (or any abuse, including domestic violence) is simply unacceptable in child custody cases and there are statutes in California that can be used on behalf of parents who are falsely accused.
Family Code 3027.1
Family Code 3027.1 states in its subdivision (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.
In the context of fathers rights in California, a father falsely accused needs to only show that the mother knowingly made the false allegations of child abuse or neglect during the child custody proceeding. If the father can show that, then the father can seek the sanctions against the mother and even the mother’s attorney if the attorney also knowingly made the false allegations. If other people (often grandparents, siblings, etc.) also knowingly made false allegations, they can also be sanctioned by the court.
Supervised visitation in false allegation cases
A lot of fathers who are falsely accused don’t realize this but the court does have the discretion to order a parent who has knowingly made false allegations of sexual abuse of the child to have supervised visitation. Typically, the Court has to find that there was a knowingly false sexual abuse allegation and California Family Code 3027.5 lays out the requirements for that.
However, there is no law that limits supervised visitation to only false sexual abuse allegation cases. They may be appropriate in cases when there are knowingly false allegations of other types of child abuse, especially if the allegations are made more than once.
Limiting visitation as a result of false allegations
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The simple fact is most fathers who are falsely accused don’t have the sense to realize that once a parent makes false abuse allegations and thinks he or she has gotten away with it, the chances of doing it again may be high. In other words, if a mother hypothetically made false child abuse allegations against a father, the father lost joint legal and joint physical custody temporarily, but the father was able to show the allegations were false and settled for restoring joint legal and joint physical custody, what did the mother who made the false allegations really suffer as a consequence of her misconduct?
What fathers in California should think about is, in addition to the monetary sanctions they seek against the other parent for the false allegations, if their children (who were probably alienated by the parent who made the false allegations) need protection, if the father, himself, needs protection against false allegations and if the father should seek primary physical custody and possibly sole legal custody of the children.
We have written in the past that false allegations of abuse are a form of child abuse in and of themselves. A parent who makes false allegations of child abuse is really emotionally abusing his or her own child. Dads have the same duty that mothers do, which is to protect their children from harm. So ask yourself this if you are a father who has been falsely accused – are you protecting your children if you are letting them have significant custodial time with a mother who has falsely accused you of abusing the children?
We think the answer to that question is often no.
Where do you start?
If you have read this article, then you owe it to yourself to speak to one of our experienced fathers rights attorneys. We are here to help you and will give you an affordable strategy session. You can also use our contact us form to reach us.