Domestic violence is a very serious issue which has gained more widespread attention over the past decade or so. As a result of public awareness, prosecutors and states are taking a much more severe stance against the crime and often will forge ahead with charges even in absence of compelling evidence against the accused. Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic violence are becoming more common during divorce or child custody cases in an attempt to “gain the upper hand.” The weapon of a false allegation of domestic violence can be every bit as lethal as a weapon in the hand of the accuser.
Reasons for False Allegations
You might wonder why a person would fabricate such stories against their soon-to-be ex-spouse. In fact, there is a reward of sorts for the person making such allegations. The (false) accuser gets attention they have likely been seeking and gains immediate sympathy from the judge and legal system in general. In fact, the accuser actually gets social approval after making such false allegations because, after all, we despite those who commit acts of violence against the weaker, right? It could come as a surprise to many that female false accusers can receive free legal assistance, governmental payments, free counseling and a variety of other support services simply by accusing the ex-husband of domestic violence.
Few Repercussions for the False Accuser
The person making false allegations of domestic violence may simply be doing so out of revenge—they are angry about the divorce and want to hurt the other person. Because the crime is relatively hard to prove definitively, there are few, if any, consequences for the person who makes false allegations of domestic violence in family court in order to gain a tactical advantage during the divorce. Most of those who have been falsely accused of the crime of domestic violence may feel they have nothing to fear and the truth will come out. The fact of the matter is that while it is possible the truth will prevail there is likely to be considerable collateral damage to the accused as well as any children involved.
Fallout for the Falsely Accused
The accused can become mired in the criminal justice system and could even end up serving jail time, paying fines, having a permanent criminal record and undergoing court-ordered therapy while the real criminal – the accuser –wins the marital assets and the children. The person who is falsely accused can suffer the trauma of public humiliation, a loss of freedom, the loss of a job or career (and future employment prospects). Fighting to prove one’s innocence can take years and years as well as devastate the accused financially and emotionally. Anyone who is currently involved in a contentious divorce or expects their divorce could reach that level should go out of their way to avoid conflict of any kind.
In some cases doing something as relatively benign as blocking your spouse’s exit from a room can be interpreted as domestic abuse. If possible, have a witness with you any time you must speak to your spouse once a divorce has been instigated. Your attorney will address the legal standards of the allegations to ensure they have been met as well as working to expose any factual inconsistencies related to the alleged abuse or violence. Behavioral inconsistencies from the accuser can be uncovered and motives to fabricate uncovered. If you find yourself in the unenviable position of having false allegations of domestic violence filed against you, it is absolutely essential that you seek highly experienced legal counsel immediately.