Sexual Abuse Allegations in Family Law and Child Custody Matters

Sexual Abuse Allegations in Family Law and Child Custody Matters

Sexual Abuse Allegations in Family Law and Child Custody Matters

Allegations of sexual abuse in child custody proceedings are a serious matter. In cases where sexual abuse has taken place, children clearly need to be protected from that abuse. On the other hand, in some cases, a parent may be wrongly accused of sexual abuse and that can wreak havoc on a family as well. The difficulty is it can often be hard to tell from the beginning whether the allegations have legitimacy or whether they are untrue.

Potential Options When Sexual Abuse Has Occurred

In cases where the allegations seem to have legitimacy, a parent can attempt to seek restraining orders and protective orders as reference above to help protect the children from immediate harm. In cases where the medical records support the allegations (of family services or law enforcement seem to give legitimacy to the allegations) the likelihood of prevailing on a restraining order or order of protection enhances.

However, in many cases, law enforcement and family services might not substantiate the allegations or decide not to bring any charges due to a lack of evidence. In these cases, an unsubstantiated allegation, or the prosecutor’s declination to bring charges, might not be the end of the matter. In many cases, one parent still believe the sexual abuse took place and may wish to pursue the matter by requesting limited and/or supervised visitation for the other parent.

How To Tell Whether Abuse Has Occurred or Refute Untrue Allegations?

In many cases, obtaining the law enforcement investigative reports and medical records are imperative. From reviewing these reports, one might be able to find evidence that was overlooked and inappropriately disregarded. Admissions or damaging statements could also be found in these reports. On the other hand, it might be that from reviewing the investigative reports and medical records that no sexual abuse took place.

A party who wishes to pursue the matter, or an individual looking to refute untrue allegations, will likely want to pursue a child custody evaluation. A child custody evaluator can often get to the bottom of the allegations and help render an opinion about whether abuse took place or not by reviewing the medical records, investigative reports, interviewing the parties and/or conducting various psychological tests. In many cases, this is the best option.

In some cases, a party might consider a psychosexual evaluation of the alleged offender. Conversely, a party who is falsely accused of abuse, or believes they have rehabilitated themselves, might agree to submit to such an evaluation to disprove the allegations by showing that they have no propensity to commit such abuse.

Some Federal Law and Rules of Evidence on Sexual Abuse

As it relates to the law, minors in all states are protected against sexual assault and abuse, or in other words child molestation. Some states refer in general terms to sexual abuse and other state statutes detail specific offensive acts. Virtually all states include sexual exploitation through child pornography in these definitions. Recent developments in child sex abuse cases often hinge not on the acts themselves, but rather on evidentiary issues, reporting duties of witnesses, and reporting duties of offenders.

In 1995, Federal Rules of Evidence 413, 414, and 415 were adopted to address evidence in sex crimes cases. Specifically, 414(a) states: “In a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of an offense of child molestation, evidence of the defendant’s commission of another offense or offenses of child molestation is admissible, and may be considered for its bearing on any matter which is relevant.” FRE 415 allows such evidence to be used in civil cases against the offender. These rules, which may have been adopted by your particular state or included perhaps in your state’s exceptions to Rule 404, make subsequent convictions easier to obtain and aid in protecting children.

Additionally, with the aim of protecting children in these types of cases some states have adopted juvenile shielding statutes. The purpose of a shielding statute is to protect the child when testifying against their abuser. The Supreme Court upheld this type of statute in Maryland v. Craig. There the Court found allowing a child to testify out of the courtroom via a one-way closed circuit television, a mechanism adopted by the majority of states, did not violate the Confrontation Clause. This helps to at least minimize the trauma on youth who are forced to re-tell the story of their abuse.

In furtherance of discovering child abusers and thereby protecting children virtually all states require doctors, teachers, day care providers, and law enforcement personnel to report evidence of abusive activity. Moreover, some states also require lawyers, clergy, therapists, counselors, and film processors to report evidence as well. The extent of these reporting duties varies significantly by state so check your local statutes.

You can also read more information on this topic in an article titled: Hearsay Statements of Child Abuse Victims.

Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma Child Custody Attorneys Helping When Sexual Abuse is Alleged

If you need help with child custody matter involving sexual abuse allegations, contact us online or by phone to schedule a confidential consultation at any of our convenient locations in the area. We have locations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Wichita, Tulsa and beyond in the Midwest.

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Helpful Information Regarding Family Violence From our Webpage

We handle many different issues related to family violence:
Domestic abuse
You do not have to suffer through domestic abuse. The attorneys at Stange Law Firm have a great deal of experience handling domestic violence matters. We can help you understand your options
Child neglect
If your child has been taken into custody by the Department of Social Services, Stange Law Firm can help you in this matter.
Protective orders
The attorneys at Stange Law Firm, PC, have successfully obtained orders of protection and can work to obtain protection for you and your loved ones.
Psychological Evaluations in Divorce
The psychological state of the parties might be an important issue in a custody dispute. We can help request a psychological evaluation if this is an important issue in your case.
Juvenile Matters
Important child custody issues might be litigated in the juvenile court. Attorneys at Stange Law Firm, PC can help if that is the case.
Supervised Visitation
In some severe cases, one parent might be a risk to the physical health or emotional development of the children such that supervised visitation might need to be explored. We can help in these cases.
Guardian ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem might need to be appointed in a custody case to ensure the interests of the children are protected
Parental Alienation
In extreme cases, children might be alienated from their parents. This can happen in unfortunate cases and we have experience in these types of cases.
Estranged Children
Opposite of parental alienation, in some cases, the conduct of a parent might be so extreme that the children become realistically estranged from their parent. It's important to have an attorney who understands realistic estrangement and how it can often be overlooked.
Parental Abduction
Parental abduction is a crisis type situation where one of the parents flees with the children in violation of a court order or to deprive the other parent of any custody time. It is critical to act fast and have an attorney in your corner if this is the case.
Drug Tests
Drug use can be significant problem in child custody cases. In certain cases, a parent might be a drug or alcohol abuser. It is vital to have an attorney who understands this issue and can help obtain an order for a drug or alcohol test.
Parent Coordinators
While it is not allowed by statute in Missouri or Illinois except by agreement, in some extreme cases, the parties might agree to have a parent coordinator help resolve legal custody disputes between parents who cannot co-parent. At Stange Law Firm, PC, we can help you explore this option as it might help minimize the need for costly litigation.
Sexual Abuse Allegations
In some child custody cases, sexual abuse allegations can arise. In some instances, the allegations regrettably turn out to be true. In other cases, the allegations are false and/or brought maliciously. No matter the situation, it is critical that you have counsel in your corner if sexual abuse allegations are part of your child custody matter.
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If you are looking to find and hire a child custody lawyer, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation at any of our convenient locations.

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