As a parent, there is little more offensive or disturbing than being accused of abusing or neglecting your own children. However, because the standard of proof that has to be met for reporting an instance of neglect or abuse is so low in the state of New York, a meritless allegation of child abuse is all too common. This is especially true if you are currently going through a divorce – it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to file a report of child abuse to get leverage in child custody discussions.
To make matters even worse, an allegation that you are abusing or neglecting one of your children can be used as evidence that you are doing the same thing to the other one, as well. This is called derivative abuse, and can make a claim of abuse against you balloon into something even more serious.
Derivative Abuse Complicates Claims of Child Abuse
Facing a claim that you have been abusing one of your children can be serious enough. If you are going through a divorce, it can have a hugely adverse impact on your ability to gain custody of your children, and can even have difficulty securing unsupervised visitation rights. Even if you are not currently going through a divorce, claims of abuse can trigger investigations, uncomfortable interviews, and can even lead to criminal charges.
However, if there are multiple children in the picture, then an allegation that you are abusing one of them can turn into an investigation of how you treat all of them. This is because evidence that one child is being abused can be used to show that you are also abusing other children at the same time. This creates the presumption that, because you are abusing one child, you are abusing all of the other children that are similarly situated, leaving it up to you to overcome this presumption.
Family Law Attorneys at the Bombardo Law Office
Allegations of child abuse are common in the context of divorce. That does not make them any less serious. They need to be fought from the outset, because of their ability to spiral out of control. If left unchecked, these allegations can turn into investigations and even criminal charges that carry serious penalties.