What do you do if you're falsely accused of domestic violence during a divorce?
While the vast number of domestic violence allegations are legitimate, that's not necessarily true of allegations that occur in the midst of a contentious divorce and custody battle. In those situations, up to 70% can be tactical maneuvers designed to prejudice the court against the accused parent.
It is incredibly important for parents who are falsely accused of domestic violence to know how to respond to the situation. Here are some key things to remember:
A civil protective order is not a criminal charge.
The first thing that will probably happen is that you will be served with a temporary protective order that compels you to stay away from your spouse, your children, and your home.
Although it probably feels like you are being treated like a criminal, a temporary protective order is not a criminal charge and you do not automatically end up with a criminal record. It's a purely civil complaint and "peacekeeping" measure. That's why the court can err on the side of caution and put a temporary order in place without so much as hearing from you.
Violations of civil protective orders can quickly become criminal charges.
On the other hand, any violation of that order can result in a criminal charge and conviction. You absolutely must obey the orders -- no matter how unfair or unjustified the allegations against you. That means:
- Do not go back to your home to retrieve anything. If you need something critical, ask your divorce attorney to arrange something with the police so that you can obtain it.
- Do not contact your spouse or children by any method whatsoever, including by text, email, social media, or messages passed by a third party.
- If you are in a store or restaurant and your spouse arrives, leave without acknowledging your spouse in any way.
While it may feel particularly unfair that you have to jump through these kinds of hoops, that is the best possible thing you can do in your situation. It takes very little evidence to convict you of a violation -- and that will result in a criminal record and likely affect the outcome of your custody case. You will essentially be playing into your spouse's hands by appearing to be abusive and out of control.
Get legal help immediately.
If you haven't already obtained divorce attorney services, you need them. You will need to tell your attorney immediately what the allegations are and what evidence -- if any -- your spouse may have. Your attorney will advise you further about how to handle the upcoming hearing for a more permanent order -- and what needs to be done to defend against the charges.Share