False Allegations During Divorce Proceedings

Unfortunately, from time to time, when a marriage breaks down, some spouses take the dramatic step of making false allegations during divorce proceedings against the other spouse. Particularly during highly contested custody battles.

To be sure, domestic violence is a terrible crime and continues to be a significant societal concern right across Canada. Women, men and children are affected by domestic violence either directly by being the intended target of the abuse or by bearing witness to the violence.

Although domestic violence continues to be an under-reported crime, the jails in this country are crowded with legitimate perpetrators of domestic violence. However there are also those who, for a variety of reasons, have been falsely accused.

Sometimes when couples decide to divorce, there are many emotions that are experienced all at once. Anger and rage often take hold of one or both spouses, particular if a deep bitterness lingers. One spouse may make false allegations of domestic abuse against the other spouse for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they wish to gain a more favourable outcome in a contested custody battle or they may hope to manipulate their spouse in some other way for their own gain.

It is important to note that, if one spouse calls 911 claiming domestic abuse, the police have no discretion – they must charge the alleged abuser.

When one spouse has been falsely accused of, arrested for and charged with domestic abuse, their character is automatically scrutinized in any ongoing or future court action. They may be subjected to mental health assessments and even court ordered anger management programs. All while coping with the confusion and emotional trauma of reconciling divorce proceedings with this perceived injustice. In addition, if children are involved, such accusations have the potential to taint relationships with the accused parent. By contrast, the accuser may be viewed more favourably since most of us detest abusers and lend support to victims.

This additional facet to a divorce proceeding will undoubtedly increase the time and expenses required to resolve all related matters, particularly for the alleged abuser who is also forced to clear his or her name.

In the absence of any witnesses, prosecution of false allegations are difficult to prove/disprove. This results in the charges sticking to the accused and therefore very little or no punitive disincentives for anyone contemplating or making bogus claims.

It should be pointed out that there are times when a strategy of leveling false allegations against a spouse backfires, particularly as evidence emerges that invalidates the claims. In cases such as these, both the spectre of the untrue allegations and the attendant negative characterization of the spouse making these allegations, become powerful ammunition for both the opposing party and their lawyer.

False allegations certainly take their toll on everyone involved. Unfortunately, the prevalence of false allegations also perilously taints the credibility of violent assaults that are actually taking place.

To ensure that your legal rights are defended and protected, please call Gelman & Associates to book your private consultation at (416) 736-0200.