Many parents are shocked to learn that their spouse, former spouse, or co-parent has accused them of abusing their child. Although this is troubling, it is quite common for parents to be falsely accused of child abuse during custody cases. In this situation, a false accusation can leave the implicated party in an impossible position to prove their innocence.
False child abuse accusations are often made to give the accusing parent the upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings. When the initial child abuse accusation is made, the criticizer typically petitions for full custody and a restraining order.
Our attorneys at Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices share how to proceed if you have been falsely accused of child abuse.
What Can Happen If You Are the Target of False Child Abuse Accusations?
False child abuse allegations wreak havoc on the lives of the accused. Such accusations not only hurt the parent, but also the children involved. A false child abuse claim has the potential to:
- Destroy the accused parent’s reputation
- Cost them their job
- Cause financial strain
- Lead to criminal charges
What to Do If You Have Been Falsely Accused of Child Abuse
If you have been maliciously accused of child abuse, the clock is ticking. The first thing to do is speak with a qualified attorney that will aggressively fight to preserve your innocence.
In addition to speaking with a lawyer, consider the following tips if you were wrongly accused of child abuse:
- Don’t make any statements unless your attorney is present.
- Keep records of every phone call, interview, or conversation you have regarding the subject.
- Don’t be defensive during the investigation, and try to cooperate with the authorities. Anything you say or do could be used against you.
- Reach out to relatives, friends, co-workers, or neighbors about being a character witness to vouch for your parenting abilities.
Being wrongly accused of abuse is difficult, but it’s important to maintain your innocence. Often these cases are just a matter of “he said, she said,” but following these tips can help the court see that you are not an abusive parent. An accomplished Missouri family law attorney will ensure that the focus is kept on the best interest of the child, fighting hard to shift the burden of proof on the accuser, or if possible, discredit the false allegations.
What Are the Repercussions for False Child Abuse Accusations?
In the state of Missouri, there are potential civil and criminal consequences for making false child abuse claims. The parent who made false abuse claims might face the following:
- Be given supervised or limited visits with the child
- May be ordered to pay legal fees for the falsely accused parent
- Receive additional sanctions
Additionally, a false accusation of child abuse can impact the court’s decision in a custody case. The falsely accused parent has a chance to win full custody if they are otherwise fit; however, the falsely accused party may be able to request to modify the custody orders. In Missouri, any person who intentionally files a false report of child abuse or neglect shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
The parent making the false claim is not only tarnishing their credibility but also showing that their child’s best interest is not of the utmost importance. In custody cases, the court’s number one priority is ensuring the best interests of the child. According to Missouri law, children benefit from “frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with both parents.”
Therefore, when a parent makes a false claim of child abuse, they are preventing their child from having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. While often aimed at harming the other parent, a false accusation affects the child more than anyone else.
Legitimate Child Abuse Allegations Are a Serious Matter
Valid child abuse allegations are a serious matter. If your child has been abused or is at risk of abuse by their other parent, their safety is of utmost importance. It is crucial to hire qualified representation to promptly help you file for a restraining order and file charges against the abusive parent when necessary.
However, if you have been falsely accused of child abuse, it is imperative that you fight the claim aggressively. If you are facing a divorce or experiencing a child custody dispute in Missouri, it is pressing to have an aggressive and seasoned family law attorney in your corner. You need a Missouri family law attorney who has successfully dealt with combating false child abuse allegations and who understands that nothing is more sacred than the relationship you have with your child.
Contact Rutter and Sleeth today at (573) 279-1349 if you have been falsely charged with child abuse.