Domestic violence is unacceptable and a serious crime. Period. But falsely accusing your spouse of domestic violence or child abuse during a New York divorce is also unacceptable, A false accusation can cause serious problems for the accused and the accuser.
Sadly, the anger or gamesmanship that can arise during divorce or child custody proceedings can result in accusations of domestic violence that have no basis in fact. It happens a lot actually. One report found that:
- About one-fourth of divorces in the U.S. involve an allegation of intimate partner violence.
- In about 70% of those cases, the allegation is deemed to be unnecessary or false.
- Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence.
Domestic violence accusations are taken seriously by police and prosecutors as well as by the judge in your divorce case. Orders of protection can be entered against you based on ex parte allegations which can severely limit your rights, barring you from your home or from seeing or communicating with your spouse or children. The stain on your reputation and the rage you may feel about being charged with such acts can be devastating, and you can face criminal proceedings that could result in jail time upon conviction.
Steps to take if you are accused of domestic violence
If you have been falsely accused of spousal or child abuse during your divorce proceedings, you need to protect yourself immediately in order to clear your name, preserve your relationships, and regain your footing in your divorce case. Here are three steps to take:
- Lawyer up. If you have a divorce lawyer – and you should – provide them with complete and truthful information about the allegation, the incident (if there was one) and any other statements or actions that you or your spouse may have said or done that could be relevant. If you are facing criminal domestic violence charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A big mistake made by many people falsely accused of domestic violence is assuming that if their spouse is no longer interested in pressing charges, then the criminal case will be dropped. Only prosecutors can make the decision as to whether or not to dismiss domestic violence charges, and they are under no obligation to follow any request by the alleged victim.
- Follow any order of protection. If a judge has entered an order of protection against you or otherwise restricted your time with your children based on false domestic abuse allegations, you have every right to be angry and hurt. But do not take matters into your own hands. Do not ignore the provisions of the judge’s order. Violating an order of protection, is a serious criminal offense and could result in you being incarcerated for contempt of court. Follow any judicial order and let your attorney aggressively seek to have the order vacated.
- Gather and retain evidence. Share any texts, emails, recordings or any other sort of evidence with your lawyer, including any previous threats to accuse you of domestic abuse. If there were witnesses to the alleged abuse or other individuals who could offer relevant testimony on your behalf get their names and contact information.
Daniel Clement: Experienced New York and New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
At Clement Law, we provide with you experienced and effective representation in your divorce and family law matters. We guide our clients through divorce and help them achieve results that protect their family, and their family’s future, after the divorce.
Contact us or call (212) 683-9551 to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to helping you.