Charges of domestic violence are always very serious, however in some instances such charges can have an extremely negative impact on pending child custody and support proceedings—on both sides of the issue. Domestic violence encompasses physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse and intimidation. Those who perpetrate domestic violence seek to control the victims through instilling fear in them and using threats, backed up by past violent behaviors. In some cases victims of domestic violence may be unwilling to even ask for child support due to fear of retaliation.
The perpetrator of the domestic violence may make false promises to pay the child support, then later renege, knowing the victim will be too afraid of repercussions to go back to court and demand support for the children. He or she may also ask to make direct child support payments rather than suffer through wage garnishments, then later stop making payments altogether. Sometimes the person who has engaged in domestic violence will also threaten the victim during a child custody case, saying he will take the children and disappear or will kill his ex, or any threats which will cause the victim to allow him to have some sort of custody or visitation.
It’s easy to see how a perpetrator of domestic violence can use intimidation to come out ahead in a child custody or child support case. On the flip side, false allegations of domestic violence can be made in order to gain the upper hand in a child custody case as well. It is actually not all that rare that false allegations are made in such situations. Perhaps there are bitter feelings about the divorce and revenge is a motivator. The parent—usually the mother—may make allegations of domestic abuse as a way to “get back” at the other parent knowing custody will almost certainly go her way after such allegations are made. Jealousy is a common motivator when the ex-spouse is with another person, and since there are virtually no repercussions for those who falsely accuse an ex of domestic violence, there is not deterrent to such behavior.
Because of the serious nature of domestic violence charges, courts are likely to err on the side of caution, handing down restraining orders with virtually no supporting evidence. The accused is basically then considered guilty until he is able to be proven innocent in family court. The parent falsely accused of domestic violence should fight hard to prove innocence in court by presenting character witnesses in court as well as working hard to find others willing to swear to the accuser’s potential motivators for making false allegations. False allegations are extremely difficult to combat and require the services of a highly experienced family attorney who can use their extensive knowledge to protect the rights of their client.
Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or the parent falsely accused of the crime, it is imperative that you have solid legal representation during your child custody and support proceedings.