My Ex falsely accused me of child abuse, what should I do?

Accusations of child abuse are never taken lightly, but it is possible where one parent may plea that for their own gain. 

Sadly, I have seen a few instances where one parent abused the system and made numerous false claims of child abuse against the other parent.  Sometimes this parent was delusional and truly believed the abuse occurred (despite evidence to the contrary) or in other occasions the parent was making the abuse up in order to gain an advantage in a custody case.  The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has it’s flaws and has been in the news lately for several high profile cases.  But, despite it’s flaws, the Department of Children and Family Services is necessary and serves the protect children from abuse, abandonment and neglect.  A parent should never abuse the system by falsely accusing the other parent of abuse. A false claim of abuse takes away limited, valuable resources that could be used to help legitimate children who are being abused.  Making a false claim of abuse carries with it harsh penalties and should be avoided at all costs.

A recent Fifth District Court of Appeals case dealt with this issue.  In Paulick v. Paulick, the Mother regularly sought to limit the Father’s access to their children and made repeated allegations of sexual abuse that were all found to be unsubstantiated by the Department of Children and Family Services, the Sheriff’s Office, various psychologist and therapists, and three different judges.  During the course of the case, the trial judge repeatedly ordered the Mother to provide the Father time with his children, yet she consistently refused to comply.  The Mother had been the primary caregiver for the children, but because she abused the system, the trial court ultimately turned things around and made the Father the primary caregiver of the children.  The Mother appealed and the Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and found that there was competent, substantial evidence to support the trial court’s decision to change custody of the children to the Father.

It is worth noting that making false claims of child abuse is a crime in the state of Florida.  In fact, if you knowingly and willfully make a false report of child abuse, it is a third degree felony that is punishable up to five years in prison.  A false claims of child abuse is defined as a claim that is not true and is maliciously made for the purpose of acquiring custody of a child.  (It is also defined as a claim that is being made for the purpose of harassing, embarrassing or harming another person, personal financial gain for the reporting person or personal benefit for the reporting person.).  More information can be found at Florida Statute section 39.205 and section 415.111.

If you suspect your ex is making false claims of child abuse or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].