All good parents have one thing in common: they love their children deeply. Therefore, one of the worst things a parent can experience in a contentious family law case is an accusation of child abuse.
Imagine that you are going through a divorce from a vindictive spouse. They are accusing you of all kinds of neglectful actions, such as feeding your child a nutritionally poor diet, failing to get him medical care when necessary, and sending him to school without being properly dressed for the weather. In short, you are being falsely accused of abusing your son.
You know why she is doing this: to cast doubt on you as a fit parent and limit the amount of time you may be able to spend with your son after the divorce. The problem is that such accusations cut you to the quick, making it practically impossible to refute her claims using logic. Instead, you want to text to tell her what you really think, close your door to child protective services when they come for a visit, and go straight to the courthouse to enlighten the judge overseeing your divorce.
Don’t do it. When a hostile spouse makes accusations of this nature in a divorce action, don’t give her any ammunition for making you look irrational. Instead, protect yourself against these false allegations and protect your future relationship with your son by taking the following steps.
- Discuss the situation with your divorce attorney. Your attorney can advise you on how to respond to the accusations and cooperate with child protective services or any other investigating body.
- Do not engage with your accuser. Although you have every right to be angry, stay civil and control everything you say in texts or emails. Bear in mind that they will be looking for things they can use against you, so don’t oblige them.
- Do not be alone with your accuser. When your spouse has already accused you of neglecting your children, the last thing you need to do is give them another opportunity to create “evidence” against you. Always have your attorney or another witness with you.
Making false accusations of this nature can even backfire on your spouse:
- New York Social Service Law calls for suspected case of false abuse allegations to be referred to the district attorney or appropriate law enforcement division.
- NYPL § 240.50 -Falsely reporting an incident in the third degree- makes it a Class A misdemeanor to report child abuse that one knows for a fact never took place.
Knowing that someone has accused you of neglecting or abusing your child simply to win a custody battle is upsetting, but when you take steps to protect yourself legally, you lay the groundwork for a positive outcome.
Jayson Lutzky is a New York divorce and family law attorney. He appears in family court regularly and has handled thousands of uncontested and contested divorces over the past 35 years. If you are seeking strong legal representation, then contact Mr. Lutzky’s office to set up a free in-office initial consultation at 718-514-6619.