Child Abuse Allegations during Divorce and Custody
An allegation of child abuse is a very serious matter that the Court does not take lightly. Such accusations, whether true or not, can often be found in contested divorce cases and child custody disputes. Child abuse or neglect allegations can impact all aspects of your case, and in extreme circumstances, may even result in a loss of parental rights.
Abuse v. Neglect
Article 10 of the Family Court Act of the State of New York thoroughly outlines the differences between child abuse and child neglect. It is crucial that parties are familiar with the distinctions between the two, as they are vastly different.
Child abuse includes any activity or action that puts a minor at risk of being harmed physically, and includes sexual abuse. Neglect, on the other hand, occurs when a parent or caretaker fails to provide sufficient care for a minor. Neglect can include mental, emotional, physical, and medical neglect. For a more in-depth discussion on the differences between child neglect and abuse in New York, click here.
Allegations Affect Custody
New York courts base their child custody decisions on what will be in the child’s best interest. Judges must take into consideration many different factors before issuing a custody decision, including any allegations or history of child or spousal abuse. Other factors weighed by the courts are:
- The child’s age, sex, and physical and mental health
- Each parent’s mental health and lifestyle
- Emotional bonds between parent and child
- The quality of the child’s education
- The ability of each parent to provide proper care, shelter, food and clothing for the child
Unfortunately, divorce and child custody cases can easily turn into highly contentious battles, with both parties trying to claw their way to “victory”. When this happens, it is not uncommon for a parent to accuse their ex-spouse of child abuse or neglect. To err on the side of caution, judges will often issue a temporary order of custody, which may limit the accused party’s access to their children. This is incredibly damaging to the child, and in extreme situations, may lead to parental alienation.
Were You Falsely Accused?
Time is of the essence if you have been falsely accused of child abuse or neglect. Access to your children will be limited, and your relationship with them will suffer. While your best bet is to retain an experienced family law attorney, there are a few steps you can take to prove your innocence, maintain a healthy parent-child relationship, and help assist in settling the matter amicably. These can include:
- Have a neutral, third party present during all visits and interactions with children
- Thoroughly read any complaints filed against you, and compile evidence to dispute the allegations
- Do not let your emotions cloud your judgement; remain calm while communicating with the other parent or authorities involved in your case
- Consider asking friends or family members to sign Affidavits attesting to your parenting style and behavior/relationship with your children
- Comply with any temporary court orders
Being accused of abusing or neglecting your child is one of the most difficult situations a parent will go through. Do not give up. Hire a family law attorney, and fight for your right to have a relationship with you children. The battle may be hard, but overcoming the false accusations will be well worth it when you are allowed to remain a permanent fixture in your children’s lives.
The Importance of an Attorney
A number of abuse and neglect cases are unfounded, meaning an investigation conducted by the Administration of Childrens Services (ACS) has found the allegations to be false, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. The risk of an accused party loosing custody or having restricted visitation rights with their children is very real.
It is important to retain proper legal representation during an abuse or neglect case. The family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. has helped thousands of New Yorkers navigate the treacherous waters of Supreme and Family Court, advocating on their behalf and fighting to get a fair settlement. For more information, contact a member of the team to schedule a free and confidential consultation today!