If you are currently going through a divorce, and things have gotten quite hectic and intense, it may seem tempting to accuse the other parent of child abuse to make sure custody arrangements go in your favor. Or, at least, that is what some parents in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah apparently think while emotions are running high.
But should you wrongfully accuse your spouse of child abuse to prevent him/her from seeing and communicating with your child? Our Salt Lake City family law attorney from the Ault Firm is going to answer this question shortly. But before we do, let us explain how Utah family courts handle child abuse allegations.
What happens after child abuse allegations are made?
Obviously, Utah courts take child abuse allegations as they can be a huge game-changer when determining child custody and child support in a divorce. That is why courts have a few options when one of the parents accuses the other one of abusing the child.
- Set up a hearing and hear testimonies from the two parents, their lawyers, and witnesses. These hearings can significantly delay the court’s final decision, as it could take judges months or even years to ensure that the allegations are not baseless and/or if the abuse is serious.
- Order an investigation from a child protection services agency. The court would then wait for the agency’s report to proceed with the divorce.
- Order a child custody investigation, which is a more common way to investigate child abuse allegations in Utah family courts, especially when those allegations are not serious. A court employee or child custody evaluator appointed to handle the case would interview the parents, witnesses, look for evidence, and, in some cases, talk to the child. No matter what side you are on – the accuser or the accused – the importance of being represented by a Salt Lake City family law lawyer cannot be overestimated to prevent an unfair or biased investigation.
Parental rights can be suspended when child abuse allegations are made, therefore, if you are the accused parent, you must contact a Salt Lake city family law attorney immediately. Your attorney can gather all available evidence, including your lack of criminal record or background of committing abuse.
What if a parent makes false child abuse allegations?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for parents in Utah to make false allegations of child abuse just to secure a favorable child custody decision. Why is this happening?
First of all, because this may become a sure-fire way to obtain primary child custody rights. Second of all, because this is easy and the punishment for making false child abuse allegations is relatively minor.
Let’s assume for a second that you have made false child abuse allegations – or the allegations have been labeled “false” even though you know they are true (yes, a good family law attorney can work wonders) – what penalties would you be facing? You may be penalized for knowingly making false child abuse allegations during a child custody proceeding. The penalty typically covers the costs incurred to carry out the hearings, investigations, and attorney fees since the false allegations were made.
In addition to that, a Utah family court will most likely deny or limit the parent’s custody or visitation rights if it has been proven that the parent has made child sexual abuse allegations and he or she knew they were false. False child sexual abuse allegations are taken seriously by courts, which is why making such accusations is treated the parent’s attempt to interfere with the parent-child relationship.
Whether you are the accusing party or the accused, seek immediate help from a Salt Lake City family law attorney to find out the best legal strategy in your particular case. Do not even attempt to fight this battle alone, as this is a complex area of the law, with a lot at stake. Call the Ault Firm at 801-539-9000 or complete our contact form to schedule your consultation.