False abuse and domestic violence allegations often strike during divorce. Typically, one parent accuses the other of abusing the children, though the allegations could also include abuse against the other parent. In cases in which these allegations are fabricated, the goal is often to keep that parent from getting custody and visitation rights. This can be a tactic used for parental alienation, sometimes simply out of spite. According to one report, these are some alarming key stats you should be aware of:
Sexual abuse is alleged in roughly 4 percent of all divorce filings.
While this number may seem small, there were 813,862 divorces in 2014. This means that sexual abuse was alleged in roughly 32,554 cases. Though there is debate about the prevalence rate, it’s likely more common than most people realize.
33 to 80 percent of the allegations may be unfounded or false
It is worth noting that different studies give different ranges. It depends on exactly what definitions are used and the sampling methods. For example, this report looked at sexual abuse allegations, so totals may be higher when looking at all types of domestic violence that are alleged. It’s also important to note that a determination can’t be reached in some cases. For instance, one researcher found that allegations were likely real in 50 percent of the cases, likely false in 33 percent, and that it was impossible to be sure in the other 17 percent.
Divorce cases account for 40 percent of the total
Naturally, accusations of sexual abuse happen in many different situations, but it’s slightly alarming just how often these come up in divorce cases. One group of researchers looked at 500 different cases over six years, and they found that 40 percent of them were custody and divorce cases. In 75 percent of those cases, the court never determined that any abuse had happened.
As noted above, this is potentially a tactic used to limit the contact of the other parent. For example, one parent may want to share custody, while the other may want sole custody, cutting that parent out entirely. Courts typically try to find a solution that involves co-parenting and shared custody, keeping both parents involved, unless there’s a good reason to do otherwise. As such, accusations of abuse or domestic violence could be made as a last-ditch effort to prevent sharing parenting responsibilities.
Fighting false accusations
If you’re in a contentious divorce, in your mid-30s and with young children involved, remember that your spouse may do everything he or she can do to control the situation. This very well could include false accusations of domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse. When you’re accused and you know you did nothing wrong, it’s heartbreaking and frustrating. However, remember that it happens to thousands of people every year. The key is to know what legal options you have and to work hard to overcome the allegations.