An allegation of child sexual abuse, even a false one, will change your life. This is particularly true in a child custody case. Your character will be called into question and you will sense tension between you and your friends, family and co-workers. Your child will probably be negatively impacted. Your child may have to undergo physical and psychological examinations, which can be traumatic for a child. Unfortunately, false allegations of sexual abuse are raised in some child custody cases in an effort to gain an advantage. This creates a terrible situation for the child, particularly where children are coached to make false allegations against their parents, which can result in parent alienation.
When allegations of sexual abuse are made in a child custody case, the court may appoint a mental health professional to help decide how to handle the case. Also, grandparents, other family members, neighbors, caregivers, teachers, and others who have a relationship with the child may be interviewed. A multitude of information must be gathered and evaluated to determine whether allegations of sexual abuse are meritorious.
The court’s primary concern in a child custody case is the best interest of the child. Therefore, when allegations of sexual abuse are raised, the court will focus primarily on protecting the child and creating a plan for the child’s immediate safety. The impact of these allegations on the accused parent is not a factor that the court must consider when allegations are initially made. This means that a parent accused of sexually abusing his or her child may be temporarily separated from their child during a variety of investigations and court proceedings that may take place. These may include criminal charges, children & youth agency investigations, child custody claims, including a petition to temporarily suspend a parent’s custodial rights and access to the child, and protection from abuse actions, which could result in an order of court prohibiting the accused parent from having contact with the child and changing the custody schedule. This can be a very stressful and frustrating process for a parent accused of sexually abusing his or her child.
If you are facing allegations of child sexual abuse, you need an experienced attorney who understands the serious nature of the allegations and how these allegations can impact all aspects of your life. You will need an attorney that is sensitive to the issues you are facing and one that communicates with you regularly about the status of your case.
Here are nine important points to keep in mind if you are accused of sexual abuse of a child, whether the allegations are true or false:
- Hire an experienced child custody lawyer who has dealt with allegations of sexual
abuse in child custody cases. These cases are extremely complex. Do not delay in hiring an attorney.
- Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled sexual abuse cases.
Criminal charges need to be investigated immediately to locate evidence to help you.
- Do not talk to a police officer or investigator about the case unless you have hired an
attorney who has advised you to cooperate with an investigation. Some people think that if they just tell an investigator their side of the story, everything will get cleared up quickly and their life will return to normal. This is not always the case. Your attorney will advise you about speaking with investigators and police.
- Do not discuss the case with your child. Your child is probably experiencing a lot of
bad feelings about the allegations and it will not help your child or your case to discuss the allegations with he or she.
- Do not discuss the case with the person who accused you of abusing your child. Even
if you do not know for certain who accused you, you should not accuse anyone of reporting or engage in any conversation with people about the case because you do not want your emotions to hurt your case.
- Only discuss your case with your attorneys and individuals that your attorney
specifically recommends you talk to.
- Provide your attorney with all information that he or she requests in a timely fashion.
- Listen to your attorney and follow his or her advice.
- Do not put your personal feelings or thoughts about your case on any social
networking sites, on the internet, or any place that a person could duplicate and use against you to hurt your case.