Unfortunately, in our experience false allegations of child abuse are common.
They can arise during an acrimonious divorce or separation when one parent believes that an accusation against the other parent will increase their own chances of winning custody of the children.
If an allegation is made, professionals are under a duty to investigate it. A referral will be made to social services who will carry out an investigation. The police will also be notified and you will be interviewed about the allegations.
We can assist you to respond to the allegations and if provided with early information we can often liaise with the Police and arrange a voluntary interview to avoid you being arrested.
Unfortunately, these investigations do take time, it can take weeks, if not months for the police to make a decision whether or not to proceed with a prosecution or to take no further action against you.
During this time the professionals will speak to all involved, your child will be interviewed about the allegations and this will be recorded, you will be interviewed and your electronic devices may be analysed. Whilst these investigations are ongoing it is unlikely that you will be able to see your child.
We can liaise with professionals and help you prepare for meetings with them. We can make representations to the police on your behalf and keep the pressure on them to conclude the investigation swiftly.
Our experience is that when a false allegation is made, the police and social services then find insufficient evidence of abuse to proceed with a case. However, sadly that does not mean that the matter comes to an end.
When one parent has fabricated or encouraged a child to make an allegation, they are likely to continue to refuse contact between you and the children despite the professionals not having concerns. At that stage, it is then necessary for an application to be made to the Family Court for a child arrangement order.
Fortunately, our Judges are experienced and well aware that false accusations are frequently made. Any claims of abuse will be thoroughly investigated by the court at a fact finding hearing. If the Judge determines that a parent has made a false accusation in order to influence a child custody decision, he may modify the custody arrangements entirely in favour of the accused.
What To Do If You Have Been Falsely Accused Of Child Abuse
As uncomfortable as it is, you should engage with the investigation and the professionals and be as cooperative as possible.
It is crucial to seek legal advice at an early stage. We can help you prepare for meetings with social workers and will liaise with the police on your behalf, arranging a voluntary interview and avoiding your arrest whenever possible.
You will need to gather evidence to support your case. This may include statements from family members and friends, photographs and messages between you and your ex-partner (these need to be preserved quickly before they delete them).
It is important to have support during this process so the people closest to you know what is going on.
It is likely that during the investigation you will not be able to see your child. This will be an incredibly difficult period and you will need help from loved ones.
We encourage our clients to still buy special occasion cards and small gifts for their child even when separated as these will be passed on at some point and ensure that your child knows that despite the separation you were still thinking of them.