Help for Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse

Falsely Accused of Child Abuse in a Divorce? | Guide for Parents Fighting False Abuse Allegations

Help for Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse

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 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 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 your case? Contact us for an affordable strategy session. We have offices in Orange County and Los Angeles.


Dealing With False Child Abuse Accusations

Help for Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse

Misunderstandings are a part of life. They can cause problems with your boss, be the catalyst for an argument with your spouse, and even have an affect on lifelong friendships.

Most of these cases can easily be resolved through communication and mutual understanding. Unfortunately, some misunderstandings can get hand very quickly and, before you realize it, can have a severe or permanent impact on your life.

One thing that we at Wolf Law LLC see all too often are false child abuse allegations. As mentioned above, these can occur as the result of a simple misunderstanding.

This was the case for Washington Post writer Lauren Knight when someone reported her to social services for child abuse, all because this stranger misinterpreted what was really going on, a child throwing a temper tantrum, as abuse.

For Knight, this situation brought with it undue stress, hurt, and doubts.

Countless parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends have found themselves in this unfortunate scenario before, but it’s not always because of a misinterpretation.

There are plenty of scenarios that might lead someone to be falsely accused of child abuse.

Throughout the course of this article, we’ll go over what happens when a person is wrongly accused of abusing a child, from the effects it has on both the accused and the child to the situations this kind of allegation can spawn from. We’ll also discuss some strategies for what to do if you’ve been wrongly accused.

Effects of False Child Abuse Charges on the Accused and the Child

Few people realize the true impact this kind of accusation can have on every person involved. In terms of how it affects the accused, there is always a risk that they will be doubted by their family and friends.

They may lose their job, be dismissed from a school or training program they are involved in or face harassment or vandalization of their property or belongings.

The child in question can also be deeply impacted by false accusations. Since children are highly suggestible, “confessions” that are simply not true are often coaxed them by parents or investigators.

Not only can this confuse the child, but it can also create a sense of distrust for the person interrogating them. Additionally, if a child is told that a specific person has wronged them, and that accusation is false, the child will ly never trust that person again.

The confusion factor may also affect the child’s ability to trust anyone at all and can make them think that they can never be sure that what they’ve seen, heard, or witnessed is truly wrong or right.

Situations in Which Accusations Often Occur

There are a number of scenarios that could lead one to believe that a child is being abused. You’ve probably witnessed one yourself at some point in your life.

Perhaps you were in the grocery store and saw a mother physically grab her child’s arm in a manner that you perceive as forceful.

This could definitely be a form of child abuse, but you can’t make that kind of assumption based off of one instance.

More ly than not, that mother had asked her child multiple times to behave and the child threw a temper tantrum as a reaction, resulting in her grabbing his/her arm.

While this may not be the best parental reaction, that doesn’t make it child abuse or domestic violence and it doesn’t mean the child is being abused routinely in the home.

When someone is accused of child abuse, there are a lot of possibilities that have to be considered. Not only can false allegations come from adults, in some situations, but they can also come from children too. The following are just a few of the situations that could result in an unjust child abuse accusation:

  • One half of a couple going through a divorce, and subsequent custody battles, may be tempted to accuse the other of child abuse, simply to win custody of the children.
  • A parent who runs into the gas station to pay for her fuel could be accused of child abuse for leaving her child/children alone in the car.
  • Many parents allow their children to play in their front yard or a local playground unattended, which could trigger a neighbor or even a family member to report the action as child abuse.
  • Just as in the story we mentioned earlier, a complete and total stranger could witness an interaction between a parent and child in a public place and anonymously report the incident.
  • A child might say that he or she was “touched” or “abused” because they are desperately seeking attention.
  • wise, children can easily be confused and coerced by adults into saying something that adults can twist into an accusation.
  • Some kids have had experiences with abuse in the past that are repressed. Those feelings can come back up and be imprinted on another adult who had nothing to do with the original incident but who reminds the child of the person who did abuse them.
  • Some kids have a problem with an authoritarian father and will claim abuse to try to get him the house.

Surviving False Child Abuse Allegations

As you can see, there are multiple scenarios that could lead to an unjust child abuse allegation. The tricky part is knowing what to do in these situations.

In our experience, the single most important thing you can do when initially accused is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

As lawyers, we know that anything you say can and will be used against you in court, so it’s generally best to talk to as few people as possible until you get in touch with a lawyer who can help you navigate the process.

Additionally, you should also consider the following tips if you are ever wrongly accused of child abuse, whether they are sex crimes or allegations of physical abuse:

  • Remember, social workers are trying to build a case against you, and they will look for anything they can find that could make you look guilty. Don’t offend them and don’t be defensive, cooperate as much as possible.
  • If asked to give a statement, decline until your attorney can be present.
  • Don’t speak about the situation to anyone. That includes friends, family, neighbors, even support groups or church friends.
  • Try to stay positive. This will help strengthen you and your family, and will keep you from looking guiltier than you are.
  • Take notes about everything that happens. Every phone call, every interview, every conversation that takes place about the subject should be either rerecorded (if legal in your state) or written down in detail.
  • wise, keep track of where you are at all times, who you were with, and why you were where you were.
  • Obtain a copy of the charge against you and ask for a letter that states the formal allegations.
  • Research your state’s foster care system, the appeals process, and learn as much as you can about your rights.
  • When you do have to speak to the authorities or investigators, keep it simple. State the facts and be honest, but don’t ramble or speak more than is absolutely necessary.
  • Communicate with your partner or spouse. These allegations can taint a relationship and, since what you need most right now is supports, it’s important to talk honestly and openly about what’s going on so as to assure the other partner that the charges simply aren’t true.
  • Establish visitation rights as soon as possible, knowing that these visit will need to be supervised by another adult at all times.
  • Continue to live in your home, unless ordered to leave by the court or advised to move by your attorney.
  • Find both an independent psychologist and family doctor who are not associated with social services to evaluate your entire family.

We cannot stress enough how absolutely critical it is for you to have an attorney you trust when facing this kind of situation.

You need to realize that what you’re up against may be the fight of your life and you need to take the situation extremely seriously. You should be prepared and ready to go to court at any time.

You should also obtain as much evidence as you can in your favor, including affidavits and character references from everyone you know, friends, family, and children included.

Remember, if you’re innocent you have nothing to hide. Maintain that innocence at all times and never let anyone coax a confession you that says that you’ve done something you haven’t. One slip up could be your downfall, so remain alert and aware at all times and stay in constant contact with your attorney.

At Wolf Law LLC, we know how important hope is. Remember, never give up on yourself, because we will absolutely never give up on you. If you need help fighting false child abuse allegations, call us immediately at 720-479-8574 or contact us ASAP to set up your free and confidential consultation.


False Allegations of Child Abuse

Help for Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse

As public awareness of child abuse increases, more and more reports of possible abuse are being made. Conscientious reporters are taking the necessary first steps to protect children. Not all reports of abuse are substantiated, however. Sometimes, even when the reports are made in good faith, further investigation reveals that the accusations are not true.

In yet other situations, false allegations are intentionally raised in order to harm the subject of the allegations, such as in a bitter divorce in which custody of the children is contested.

If you find yourself the victim of false allegations, whether from a well-meaning source or an embittered spouse or ex-spouse, you need to take immediate counter-action.

The following tips, together with expert legal counsel, can head you in the right direction.

False Allegations of Child Abuse: What Should You Do?

1. Attempt to prevent the possibility of false allegations by avoiding being with children without another adult present. Day care workers, scout leaders, coaches, and others who could be the target of false allegations can lessen the lihood of those charges sticking by having another adult present who can corroborate that nothing inappropriate happened.

2. Attempt to resolve custody disputes amicably in order to avoid the possibility of an angry spouse or former spouse using false allegations as a means of punishment or obtaining custody.

3. Avoid engaging in any conduct that could be deemed inappropriate when dealing with children, such as making sexually suggestive comments, telling dirty jokes, rough-housing, or engaging in overly aggressive horseplay.

4. Hire an experienced attorney if someone levies false allegations against you. Even if you trust that the truth will prevail, or that the accuser will calm down and retract the accusations, it's imperative that you consult with an attorney who knows the legal issues and system involved and can safeguard your interests.

5. Educate yourself about the subject of false allegations of child abuse and the laws of your state so that you have a greater understanding of the situation, can protect yourself, and can work as a partner with your attorney.

6. Contact your attorney with questions and concerns, and keep him or her apprised of developments in your situation.

7. Contact friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who may be willing to testify on your behalf, either by written affidavit or in court.

8. Maintain your positive relationships with your children when the allegations arise a custody dispute, and understand that the children are not responsible for the false allegations and resulting turmoil. Even if they say the words that support the allegations, understand that false accusations can be planted in children's minds through no fault of their own.

9. DO appreciate that allegations of child abuse must be taken seriously and investigated. Even though you know that in your case the accusations are groundless, in many cases they are not, so in the interests of all children further investigation is generally necessary.

False Allegations of Child Abuse: What Shouldn't You Do?

1. Never abuse your children, or any other children, in any manner, including physically, emotionally, or sexually.

2. Be careful about putting yourself in any unnecessary situations that could give rise to suspicion, such as by accompanying children to the bathroom, helping them change clothes, or bathing them. If your job requires such activities, it is always best if another adult is present during all circumstances that could be wrongly interpreted.

3. Do not be passive if false accusations are raised. Take immediate action to protect yourself.

4. Never be afraid to ask your attorney questions before retaining him or her, and as your case progresses.

5. Never admit to anything you did not do, even if may seem simpler to do so. You can be convicted a false confession. A conviction for child abuse has long-lasting, far-reaching implications, and can have an adverse effect on future employment, future relationships, and your future in general.

6. Keep your temper under control with the authorities involved in your case. As angry as the situation may make you, losing control could be used as evidence to support the allegations.

7. Don't give up. It may be the ugliest battle of your life, but overcoming and disproving false allegations of child abuse is without a doubt worth the effort.

Get Professional Help With Your Child Abuse Case

If you've been falsely accused of child abuse allegations by a spouse, family member, or mandated reporter, you ly have many questions. While this can be a devastating time for you, a legal expert can assist you along the way. A family law attorney with the necessary background and experience can review the facts in your case and help you devise a plan of action going forward.


Being Falsely Accused of Child Abuse

Help for Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse
By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister — Updated: 2 Sep 2021 |

If you are accused of child abuse, whether sexual or violent in nature, or abuse that is supposed to have occurred in front of your children, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a ‘visit’ from Social Services, which may seem casual and friendly but is actually recorded on a computer and remains on a social services file indefinitely.

If Social Services decide not to do anything about it, there will be ‘no action taken’. It is well worth checking what is on the file in these circumstances to make sure that what has been recorded is accurate. You are unly to get an apology or thanks for your cooperation.

Further Action

If Social Services decide that they need to take further action, they can hold a ‘core assessment’ meeting where they can direct you to do certain things as a parent.

Your child could be put on the ‘at risk’ register.

If this happens, it could be that your authority over your child’s welfare may be shared with Social Services, or your child could be taken into care, or adopted into another family.

Your Child’s File

Whatever information is on file about your child, it can be seen by medical professionals, health visitors, teachers and school staff, housing authorities, police, public and some voluntary workers who have contact with children, and youth workers. That is why it is important to ensure that whatever is recorded is correct.

The Meeting With Social Services

Although this is often sold to people as ‘a little chat’, you should NOT treat it as such. Make sure you bring someone with you who you know and trust as a witness, and make sure you tape record the meeting. Ask everyone there whether they have any objection to you recording the meeting – they should not.

Use a ‘conference microphone’ so that you get a clear definition of what everyone says. If you know what the meeting is going to be about, bring any documentation that you think will help. No matter how nice they are to you, remember they are there to do a job – which is to see whether you are an unfit parent or not.

They are not paid to be kind to you.

The Good News

As public bodies are terrified of being lambasted in the media, they can have a tendency to over-react to any kind of concern expressed over a child’s welfare. There does not have to be strong evidence in order to trigger a referral to Social Services.

Sometimes it is simply an opinion, a suspicion, or an impression that a public employee has, although there are rules and concerns must be ‘evidence based.’

Although this might seem shocking, a considerable number of referrals to Social Services are not investigated at all because they are deemed to be without merit.

Although figures vary between local authorities, those that are not investigated at all amount to around 55% of all referrals. If there is genuinely nothing wrong, and the referral has been made mistakenly, or maliciously, just make sure you take the precautions described above.

Act professionally, tell the truth and make sure that you do not say anything even in jest that could be misinterpreted.

False accusations are not uncommon where one partner is looking for ways to 'punish' the other. It's not always accusations of child abuse either…often an ex will falsely accuse you of domestic violence or even rape. Our articles:
Being Falsely Accused of Domestic Abuseand

Being Falsely Accused of Rape

offer some advice about what to do in those situations.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum… It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads. Next Page

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..

My step daughter has recently accused me of been pervy, i have been in her life for 8 years now, see her as my own daughter. Her mam believes that i have not done such a thing, but we have had to call it a day through fear of what might be said. I'm not ready to give up on us after all its been 8 years of our life together for something this to be said is pretty disturbing. Just wondering if anyone else has been through this and could give advice.

sk — 2-Sep-21 @ 4:57 PM

Look im a( Bachelor and will die one I love my lifestyle)inreality I never wanted a wife and kids if that makes me weird well I guess I'm weird hey its my life and I will live it my way .(I dont need a women or a child ) I'm self efficient. And I heard all the people say what you going to do (when old) .I would to answer that I be doing the same thing I'm doing now!!! only thing different I be bald always wanted to be a (silver fox) but no unfortunately I'm suffering male pattern baldness have more wrinkles and have a beer gut and more then ly travelling my country in a caravan with my 4 legged companion .

C laurie — 24-Aug-21 @ 1:04 AM


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