Unfortunately, allegations of domestic violence or abuse are common in Alabama divorce proceedings. In some cases, one party is able to present evidence to substantiate the claims. In these cases, family courts must investigate into the matter and consider it when making decisions on things such as child custody.
In many cases though, these allegations are false. In fact, one study out of Texas shows that hundreds of families across America deal with false allegations of abuse every week. When this happens, one spouse states the other is abusive in an effort to influence divorce hearings. For the accused spouse, these allegations are extremely difficult to deal with and have significant impact.
Orders of Protection
After one spouse makes allegations of domestic violence or abuse, a judge may issue an emergency order of protection. The legal standard for these orders is very low, even though they have tremendous impacts for both the short and long-term.
Orders of protection are no-contact orders. Once one is issued, the accused can no longer have contact with the accuser. They often have to leave the family home and cannot even have contact with their children. It can prevent one parent from taking the children outside of a certain jurisdiction, even for a very short time. It can also prevent the accused from selling or disposing of personal or real property. All of this can happen without any real proof of abuse being presented to the courts.
Once an order of protection is issued, the terms are legally binding for the accused. Violating the order, or false allegations of violating the order, also have real consequences. In fact, it could mean jail time for the alleged offender.
Impacts of the False Allegations
A false allegation of domestic violence or abuse always has a severe impact. However, in divorce cases, it can be disastrous for those accused.
In most cases, once a false accusation has been made, or an order of protection issued, the accused parent must stay away from both their spouse and their children. This means absolutely no contact, at least initially. Sometimes though, that contact ban remains in place for the entire proceedings. In some cases, a judge may allow the accused parent supervised visitation, but this is rare.
When children are prevented from seeing their parents, it always has a negative impact. In divorce proceedings, though, the effects can be devastating. Preventing a child from seeing one parent throughout divorce proceedings automatically swings child custody matters in favor of the accusing parent.
The accusing parent can easily argue that the child should remain with him or her because this is the arrangement to which the child has become accustomed. If a child spent the entire divorce proceedings with the accusing parent, that parent can then argue that dividing time up equally between both parents now would cause confusion and insecurity for the child.
Unfortunately, this tactic, although extremely unfair, is also quite effective. In many cases, it works for the accusing parent.
How to Clear Your Name
Hearing your spouse falsely accuse you of domestic violence or abuse in court is shocking and upsetting. However, you do not have to sit there and simply wait for the judge to issue an order of protection. You must fight the allegations, and once again level the playing field.
An attorney can help you get an order dismissed, vacated, or modified so that you at least have some visitation with your children. While you may still have the accusation hanging over your head, taking these steps can help you in your child custody case later on. Of course, any evidence you can present that the other spouse is lying will also help. Although it is difficult to prove something never happened, it is possible to prove your spouse has been dishonest in the past.
Contact Our Alabama Family Attorneys for Help
Divorce can quickly become ugly and unfortunately, there are a number of tactics spouses use just to win their case. This includes making false accusations of domestic violence and abuse. When a spouse makes these false allegations, it is extremely difficult for the one accused, but do not give up hope. One of our Birmingham family attorneys is here to help.
At Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC, we are committed to helping those going through a divorce. We will work hard to ensure proceedings are fair, that your rights are upheld at all times, and will refute any false allegations made by the other side. Call us today at (205) 619-6290 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation.