Many divorce and family law cases involve allegations of child abuse or neglect. Often, these are baseless allegations levied by a spiteful spouse trying to hurt you and your relationship with your children because they are angry about the divorce process. These are serious charges and if you are wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect, your relationship with your children and your future are on the line. You need to act quickly to protect yourself, your children and your reputation. Here’s how you can protect yourself and when you should think about getting an experienced Long Island divorce and family law attorney involved.
How Family Disputes Can Result in Criminal Child Abuse Charges
Family legal cases are wrought with emotion, especially when children are involved. It’s not uncommon for one parent to attempt to gain control over a divorce or child custody battle by falsely accusing the other parent of domestic abuse. Because abuse tends to happen behind closed doors with few witnesses, little evidence beyond the initial testimony is needed to pursue criminal charges. Naturally, courts on Long Island act swiftly in cases of child neglect or abuse to protect children from harm. However, even when the allegations of abuse or neglect aren’t legitimate, custody and visitation rights may be revoked from the accused parent without real cause.
The Importance of Getting Legal Help
If you were accused of child neglect or abuse of any kind — be it physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional — it’s imperative that you secure legal representation as soon as possible. When the charges are levied against you, the state begins building a case against you right away. Even if the accuser ends up recanting their testimony, the state still has an obligation to pursue the charges unless and until evidence proves that no abuse or neglect occurred, or you were not the perpetrator. This means that you could still end up in court, even after your accuser withdraws their statement. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help you bring forward a solid defense.
3 Ways to Protect Yourself — and Your Family — from Child Abuse and Neglect Charges
Launching a multi-pronged defense strategy is critical after you’ve been charged with the neglect or abuse of a minor. You should:
#1. Collect Compelling Evidence
Evidence is going to be your most powerful ally, but sometimes obtaining it in cases of false abuse allegations is difficult. If the accusations suggest you were at home with the child alone when the abuse occurred, but you were out with friends at a restaurant, you could bring forward the receipt or a witness from the restaurant that can testify they saw you there at the time of the alleged incident. Any evidence of an alibi may be enough to exonerate you, or at least create reasonable doubt.
#2. Expose False Accusations
Perhaps you have no evidence that you didn’t commit the alleged act of abuse, but you have plenty of evidence to suggest that someone else has the motivation and means to levy false allegations against you. For example, say you have text messages from your child’s other parent that demand you give up one of your visitation weekends and that if you don’t, they will report you for child abuse. The quid pro quo is clear and evidence of this nature can be used to illustrate the probability that the accusations against you are false.
#3. Create a Record of Everything
Ideally, you’ve been using a co-parenting app or have been keeping your own records of communication between you and your child’s other parent. If you haven’t, it’s important to start now. Log all messages, phone calls, pick up and drop off times, and any other information of importance related to the shared custody of your child. In particular, record your activities with the child any time you have time with them. Keep movie tickets, restaurant and store receipts, and other proof that can both provide necessary alibis and speak to your character.
When Should You Hire a Long Island Family Law Attorney?
Child abuse and neglect charges can destroy your family, career, and your future. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer or family law attorney is crucial to protecting yourself — and your loved ones — from the consequences of a guilty verdict. Our Long Island family law firm is dedicated to advocating for parents and caregivers who have been wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect. Contact us today for a free consultation at 631-923-1910.
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