Divorce can be very contentious and emotional on its own, but if you have children, then custody battles can get nasty. Some spouses have gone so far as to accuse the other spouse of child abuse during divorce proceedings as a form of leverage.
If this has happened to you, then you must take action as these accusations could have a lasting impact on you and your children's lives. Here are some things you should do if your spouse brings up abuse allegations.
The court will take these accusations, even if they seem extremely unlikely, very seriously until proven otherwise. If you ignore them, then you may appear guilty even if no evidence is against you.
You should immediately take steps to protect yourself. Be careful who you discuss these allegations with until you talk to your attorney, which will reduce the chance of false information spreading. Do not admit to anything, especially if you're not guilty, and don’t think the issue will go away because it won't be that easy.
Prepare Your Defense
Gather information that will help you prove that the accusations are false. This information includes copies of texts and emails as well as documented phone calls. See if you can find anything that puts you in a good light when it comes to taking care of your children.
You may be accused of doing or not doing a wide variety of things that could be extremely uncharacteristic of you, so brace yourself for anything that might happen.
Make a List of Witnesses
Try to think of anyone who can defend you against the allegations and make a list of their names. Preferably, these will be people who have either seen you interacting with your own children or other people's children. If the accusations involve specific times and dates, then see if someone can help you with an alibi or as an eyewitness.
Be Mindful of Your Behavior Around Children
During this time period, make sure you protect yourself whenever you interact with your children or around children in general. Always have another adult, as well as your spouse, with you when you visit your children, for example.
Be careful of your language and do not make inappropriate comments or jokes within earshot of either your children or your spouse. Also, be careful with rough play and touching lest your spouse claim it’s excessive.
Expect an Investigation
Any allegation of abuse, especially in a court situation, will result in an investigation by Child Protective Services. They may want to talk to your children and your spouse and even visit your home. Whatever you do, stay calm and be cooperative with investigators even if you feel like you're being treated unfairly. Losing your temper could reinforce your spouse's allegations.
Realize the Consequences
If the allegations are proven false, then your spouse could be in trouble. He or she could be fined or even lose custody of the children. However, even if you win your relationships with your children and others could face life-long changes. Try to address these changes as quickly and efficiently as possible.
False child abuse allegations can have a serious impact on your life and your relationship with your children even after you are proven innocent. If you have been falsely accused of child abuse during the divorce process, be sure to be in regular contact with your attorney.
Brown Raduazo & Hilderley PLLC handles both divorce and criminal cases, so we can work with you on your divorce as well as the child abuse allegations. If you are planning a divorce and have children and don't yet have an attorney, call us for information on how we can handle your case.