Going through a divorce that involves a child custody dispute is difficult enough without added complications. When one parent makes false allegations about the other parent, however, a divorce can turn into a true nightmare. It can also become considerably more expensive and take much longer to resolve. If you find yourself the object of false allegations in a child custody dispute, what should you do? A Murfreesboro child custody lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how to handle false allegations in a child custody dispute.
When a Parent Resorts to False Allegations
When the issue of child custody is aggressively disputed between two divorcing parents, one parent may decide to gain an upper hand by making false allegations against the other parent. False allegations could be as relatively minor as exaggerating the other parent’s capabilities and fitness to severe allegations involving sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse or neglect of the children, allegations of serious criminal activity or substance abuse, or allegations of domestic violence. Once allegations such as these are made in a custody dispute, they must be considered by the court which means you must address them if they are made against you.
What to Do and Not Do If False Allegations Have Been Made Against You
If you are the target of false allegations made in a child custody dispute you are undoubtedly hurt and angry that someone you once loved could make such accusations. Your first instinct may be to retaliate or do something to defend yourself. While understandable, reacting in the heat of the moment will almost always make the situation worse from a legal standpoint. Instead, consider the following:
- Take a deep breath and contact your attorney. The worst thing you can do it to try and confront your soon-to-be former spouse about the allegations. You are likely to do so in a state of heightened emotions which may be exactly what he/she is trying to provoke. Your behavior will simply add fuel to the fire and may even provide evidence supporting the false allegations. Instead, contact your child custody attorney to discuss the allegations. Be honest when you do so. Your attorney cannot successfully defend you if he/she does not have all the facts.
- Prepare a defense. Remember that anyone can allege anything in a civil lawsuit. They are just that – allegations. For an allegation to impact the outcome of your child custody dispute that allegation must be proven. Work with your attorney on the best way to combat the false allegations. Tell your attorney the truth when applicable. For example, if you had a substance abuse problem years ago but have been clean for years, tell your lawyer. Likewise, if you lost your temper once with your spouse but there were extenuating circumstances (such as finding him/her cheating), be honest about it. Your lawyer can fill in the blanks that your spouse left out but only if your attorney has all the facts.
- Do not discuss the allegations with the children. This is between you and your spouse. Although it directly involves your future relationship with your children, they should not be put in the middle. Moreover, it will not look good in the eyes of the court if you drag them into the controversy. The court may order a therapist to evaluate and/or speak to the children; however, you should not be the one to bring up the allegations with them.
- Remember that a family court judge has dealt with similar situations. Finally, keep in mind that a family court judge has likely dealt with hundreds (if not thousands) of child custody disputes involving similar allegations. The judge will not be easily fooled.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Custody Lawyer
If you have additional questions about how to handle false allegations in a child custody dispute, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child custody lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.