In some divorces, people will do or say anything to gain an advantage, including making false accusations against the other spouse. These can be difficult to counter if you’re on the receiving end of these accusations because you will likely have to answer them in some way. If not, you may face consequences of your own.
To gain leverage, people may make the following false accusations:
- Abuse claims – the effect of abuse claims may both keep you away from your children in the short term and could allow your spouse to gain custody of them in the long run. In addition, you may be contacted by law enforcement if/when they want to perform a full investigation.
- Domestic violence – the other spouse may try to claim you were physically violent or threaten to get a restraining order or protective order against you.
- Hiding assets – when a court discovers that a spouse has hidden assets, it may punish them when it comes to the division of those assets. The court could also punish a spouse for making false financial filings in a legal document.
- Adultery – a spouse may make false allegations of adultery, again seeking to gain an upper hand in the disputed legal issues between the spouses, including asset division and child custody.
You Must Deal with False Allegations
Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with additional stressors. False allegations will make things even more difficult because you have no choice but to deal with them. When children are involved, the authorities may have an obligation to investigate further out of concern for their safety.
You will need to fight back against false allegations because if they become the prevailing narrative, your case can be seriously damaged. However, you will need to counter these allegations smartly. If you fight back before you have taken the time to think through how you will respond, you could do even more damage to your position. Therefore, your first call should be to an experienced family law lawyer who will help you deal with the false accusations. Your attorney will help you come up with a strategy and plan to counter them. Unfortunately, false allegations in a divorce happen quite often, and a divorce lawyer knows exactly what to do to fight back on your behalf.
Above all, you will need to remain calm. It is easier said than done when someone is making such grave allegations against you, but you must remain focused on the issue at hand. Otherwise, you may make a mistake in responding, which can undermine your case even more. Speaking with your lawyer may help you get some peace of mind, knowing you have someone in your corner who will help you deal with the issue.
Fight Lies with Facts
The best way to fight false allegations is with the facts. Ultimately, with false allegations, the facts will be on your side, and you will need to bring them to the forefront. First, you must understand the exact nature of the claims being made against you. Second, you should learn if the other spouse has anything they claim will prove their allegations, such as witnesses. Then you can develop a strategy designed to undermine their proof and attack their claims.
You will need to do quite a bit of legwork of your own. Not only will you need to challenge any evidence being used against you, but you will also need to develop facts of your own to prove what you did and did not do. For better or worse, you are on trial when someone has made false allegations against you; and, unfortunately, you’ll need to act like it.
You may have evidence of the way the spouse acted during the marriage that can undermine their credibility. For example, if they have previously made false allegations, you can cast doubt over what they are saying here. You could compile the following to show a pattern of behavior:
- Social media posts and comments
- Witness testimony
You Must Still Play by the Rules Yourself
Do not say anything directly to the spouse making the false allegations. Someone willing to go to these lengths is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can make other damaging claims. They may try to bait you, and you could find yourself facing other serious claims. In addition, you should not retaliate by making false accusations of your own. You should just stick to the facts no matter your instinct.
If you face any temporary measures because of the allegations, such as being cut off from your children and/or restraining orders, you should make sure to follow the court’s rules closely. Even though they seem unfair in light of the false claims, breaking these restrictions will put you in a worse position. These temporary measures have the full force of the legal system behind them. You could get in trouble for not following them, even if the allegations are false.
False Allegations Can Work Against the Spouse Making Them
In the end, you may end up gaining the upper hand. Courts take it seriously when a spouse lies to them. Not only may there be criminal penalties, but false allegations may backfire in a divorce case. Nonetheless, it does not stop people from doing what they think they should gain an advantage in the divorce process.
If you do not already have a divorce lawyer when you learn of false allegations against you, you should get one as soon as possible. You cannot be confident that these damaging claims will blow over without you proving them wrong. Divorce is a civil case, and the other spouse does not have to prove allegations beyond a reasonable doubt as they would in a criminal case. Instead, they only need to prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence, which means they only need to convince a judge or jury that there is a greater than 50% chance that the allegations are true. Contact our office today for more information on how we can assist you.