One of the most hurtful things one parent can do to the other is to hurl false accusations of physical or sexual abuse of their child. The allegation is an all-too-common part of court proceedings to determine child custody in a divorce.
According to Dr. Alan D. Blotcky, a clinical psychologist who focuses on child custody and parental alienation cases, the tactic often works. “Judges tend to award primary physical custody to the parent who made the allegation, even if the accused parent’s actions are not substantiated,” he writes in the recent edition of Psychiatric Times.
Blotcky notes that false allegations of physical and/or sexual abuse are a version of parental alienation (a process by which a child is estranged from a parent by the psychological manipulations of the other parent).
Of course, judges and attorneys must take all abuse allegations seriously.
Blotcky writes that “nothing could be worse than a custody decision that is based on a false allegation,” and that once a determination has been made based on that lie, it is difficult to later get a modification.
A clinical search for truth
The psychologist argues that these kinds of allegations call for a coordinated effort by the judge, the family law attorneys and a court-appointed evaluator – a mental health professional – who will take a clinical approach to assessing the allegations of abuse.
The evaluation process will have a single purpose: to determine whether the allegations are true or not. If untrue, the court will know that the accusations were fabricated by one parent to sabotage the custody process and harm the other parent.
We’ll explore Dr. Blotcky’s ideas further in an upcoming post to our Orange County family law blog. Please check back.