Divorces where there are children involved are always complicated. Unfortunately, one of the most common issues in all divorces is custody or parenting plans. Both parents want what is best for their child, but oftentimes, the acrimony between them does not provide a sound basis for good decision making.
Sadly, all too often, one partner or the other resorts to filing reports which are untrue, and this can often leave the other parent fighting back about issues which they never thought they would have to deal with. Some of the most common allegations which are common in these situations include:
- Accusing the other party of domestic violence
- Accusing one partner or neglecting or abusing the children involved
- Claiming one parent has a drug or alcohol problem
- Filing reports which state the parent is not abiding by the custody agreement
- Filing false legal reports with the court
- Accusing one partner of having a criminal complaint against them
Unfortunately, these types of allegations often leave you not only angry and confused, but also aggressively fighting against them to maintain your rights. Remember, since California is a community property state, some of these charges may also impact your settlement agreement.
Defending Against Unfounded Allegations
When someone makes an allegation against you in the midst of a child custody battle, or when a divorce proceeding is underway, you will have to mount a defense. Fortunately, in many cases, there are simple ways to do this. In many cases, these allegations will arise if an issue occurs which the other party is not comfortable with — for example, the judge has ruled that both parents must share custody and the other parent is unhappy about the terms.
Some of the potential defenses you can use depend heavily on what the allegations include — here are some examples:
- Drug and alcohol abuse — typically this is fairly simple to prove in a combination of manners. First, you can submit to a drug test to show you have no drugs in your system. Character witnesses such as friends and co-workers may also provide information which can be invaluable to help fight back against these allegations.
- Child abuse or neglect — these are the charges every parent dreads. However, in many cases, they are also the easiest to defend against. Neighbors, sitters, teachers, and friends can attest to the care you are providing a child. When a child is old enough to speak for themselves, they may also provide information to a social worker, but in some instances, the child may have been coached by the other parent, so this must be done with someone who has experience handling these types of claims.
- Domestic violence or abuse — one of the more serious allegations you may face is one of domestic violence. Since this does not always require a physical altercation, it may be more challenging to fight back. However, there are ways you can do this including forcing the accuser to provide concrete dates and locations where the reported violence or abuse took place. In some cases, they will contradict themselves, or provide specific dates or locations. If they happen to provide specific dates and locations, it is generally easy to disprove an unfounded allegation because you were in a different location.
The first thing you should do whenever there are allegations made against you during a custody dispute or a divorce proceeding is to notify your family law attorney. This is important because they will be able to advise you on how to proceed, and whether or not you may need to take additional steps to protect yourself from further allegations.
Words of Caution When Facing False Allegations
There are some things you should be aware of should someone make an accusation during your custody or divorce proceeding. Remember, it is always important to protect yourself legally. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Keep your emotions in check – losing your temper because you are angry or upset can jeopardize your case and your response. Avoid discussing the accusations with friends, family or others who may be called as witnesses later.
- Keep a record of activity – whenever you have reason to be in contact with the person making the accusation, keep a record of what the interaction is like. Also, make sure if someone tells you anything about the accusation you make note of what they told you, and when they provided the information. It may be worthwhile to capture any online activity which refers to the incident. Remember, anything which can help you can be useful, regardless of how minor it may seem.
- Keep your lawyer informed — you should keep your family lawyer informed of anything which may have an impact on your divorce or custody proceeding. Remember, in some cases, a person who has unfounded allegations placed against them may require a criminal defense attorney, which means they will have two attorneys to keep updated.
The last thing you want to do is place yourself in further legal jeopardy. If you have a shared custody plan, or when you are picking up your children for a planned visit, you may wish to be accompanied by a trusted family member who can bear witness to the interactions between you and your partner — this could also prevent them from making further false accusations.
Divorce is Never Easy and False Allegations Complicate Matters
Keep in mind, emotions always run high during a divorce proceeding, even when both parties can agree their marriage is no longer working. Unfortunately, when a partner lashes out in anger and levels allegations which are untrue against you, you must be prepared to defend yourself while avoiding any emotional outbursts which could complicate a divorce or custody proceeding even further.
If you are facing an issue because your partner has filed false allegations and you are concerned about how they may impact your child custody or divorce case, contact The Law Offices of Steven M. Bishop, Attorney at Law at (619) 299-9780 and find out your options.