But occasionally mom and dad have a hard time loving each other. They get divorced. Sometimes when reasonable people divorce, accusations fly as to how allegedly unfit, unlovable and irresponsible a soon to be “Ex” is in regards to children. Some might go so far as to accuse the spouse of child abuse. Whether the allegations are true or not, there prevails an attitude of “guilty until proven innocent” surrounding this issue. Child abuse laws, as they should be, are in place to protect children. But a false allegation impacts the accused the rest of his or her life. Take this study as an example:
A child custody survey was conducted; the group was evenly divided between males and females. A scenario was presented in which divorcing parents were contesting custody of who gets the kids. It was stated that both parents were fit and proper. The question posed regarded what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. An overwhelming 94% of respondents indicated that joint legal and physical custody, shared between parents, would be in the child’s best interest, with 78% of respondents indicating that a 50/50 time sharing agreement was appropriate. Another scenario was presented. In the second scenario the father has been accused by the mother of sexually molesting their child. The Department of Social Services and the police conducted an investigation and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not the father committed sexual abuse. The question of custody is again asked. As a result of the unsubstantiated accusation against the father, 79% of the same respondents stated that sole legal and physical custody should be granted to the mother. Only 15% of respondents felt that the father should be permitted a minimum of 50% visitation with the children.
As seen in this example, an accused spouse has little chance of returning to any semblance of a normal life after an accusation. The process of defending oneself, with the help of a qualified attorney, is costly, not just in monetary values but in terms of time, reputation and, of course, the children.