Parental alienation occurs when a parent consciously or unconsciously attempts to brainwash, or otherwise influence a child’s memories, perceptions, feelings, and relationship toward the other parent in a negative, unhealthy, selfish, or destructive way.
And this kind of behavior is repulsive enough.
But one of the most extreme, and increasingly popular forms of parental alienation arising in custody cases today involves the false allegations sexual or physical abuse against a child in divorce action.
And there is a reason for this: it’s a fast and easy way to get your parenting rights terminated and create unhealthy separation between you and your children during a divorce, even as court-ordered child-support keeps flowing.
Of Course, this is why within professional circles, false allegations of sexual abuse in a divorce action are commonly referred to as : The Nuclear Option.
Because with one simple, fraudulent allegation, your divorce opponent can not only inflict massive damage to your relationship with your children, but can completely destroy your life as well.
Background – The Rapid and Increasing Proliferation of Nuclear Warfare in Divorce
According to the National Vital Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of divorces in the United States during 2008 was approximately 1,065,750.
And According to medical, legal, and psychological studies (some of which I have provided links to under the “Resources” tab to the right), allegations of sexual abuse against a parent occur in approximately 4% of divorce cases, or 12% of divorce cases classified as high conflict custody battles.
WARNING: If you’re involved in a serious conflict over the custody of your children, statistics show your chances of being accused of molesting a child are greater than ONE in TEN.
Assuming we utilize the more conservative 4% allegation rate, there were likely around 43,030 allegations of sexual abuse against children made within divorce courts in 2008.
And lastly, of those 43,000 or so allegations (depending on the study, sampling methods, and definitions), anywhere from 85% to 97% of cases are shown to be false or unfounded, 95% of the allegations are offered by the custodial parent, and 97% of the allegations are made by women.
Meaning that in 2008, there was probably around 36,550 (at 85% validity) unfounded allegations of sexual abuse made against a parent involved in divorce, or 703 per state.
And this figure does NOT include custody and litigation issues arising after divorce.
The Rising Trend Of Nuclear Warfare In Divorce Actions
Around 2% of high-conflict divorce cases do uncover the presence of abuse and neglect or the sexual abuse of children, and as a result, the Court gives great care to ensure potential victims are protected from further harm.
So, when allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a child are presented in front of the Court, the accuser is afforded the grace to do so without proof of the behavior or fear of repercussions if the allegations are found to be unfounded.
Rightly so, the Court does not want legitimate victims of abuse to fear coming forward, and takes great care to make it as safe as possible for them to seek its protection.
The result is that regardless of the credibility of the evidence, if your estranged spouse accuses you of this crime, and does so directly to the Court, you’ll soon find out that this is one of the few instances in the U.S. justice system where you are presumed guilty.
You’ll be immediately stripped of your parenting rights, be ordered to hire a forensic expert to investigate the allegations, and any visitation between you and your children will be allowed only under the supervision of a disinterested third-party such as a professional psychologist or social worker – And in many instances, you will not even be allowed to touch your children until the Court rules on the allegations.
So, regardless of the motives of the accusing parent or the credibility of the allegations, you will in fact be treated as if you committed the alleged crimes.
But, Ahh……Unfortunately, There’s Even More…..
I remember when my ex-wife accused me of sexually molesting my two-year old daughter in my divorce.
Friends and family alike, ignorant of how these kinds of allegations are actually treated, tried to reassure me that the facts would bear themselves out and my innocence would be vindicated.
But, there is a huge problem with this.
Because if you’re fraudulently accused of physically or sexually abusing a child in a divorce action:
YOU WILL NEVER BE FOUND “INNOCENT” OF THE CHARGES, BECAUSE NO ONE IS EVER ACTUALLY FOUND INNOCENT OF THE CHARGES BY THE FAMILY COURT.
What the Court will find is that the allegations are unfounded, meaning there was not enough credible evidence to support the allegations.
And Sadly, Beyond The Damage To The Relationship With Your Children, This Is A Permanent Injury To You.
To this day, my ex-wife knowingly continues to manipulate public ignorance about how these allegations are actually treated and publicize that I was “never found innocent”.
And unbelievably, there is absolutely nothing I can legally do about this.
I’m told be Family Court professionals not to worry too much, because the Court understands what the ruling of “unfounded” means.
However, the Public at large does not. And unfortunately I cannot sue her for defamation or libel, because as mentioned earlier, Law Enforcement does not want legitimate victims to fear coming forward.
The injury is permanent, and you will not be compensated for the personal and professional damage inflicted on you by these allegations.
The Rising Epidemic Of False Allegations Of Abuse In Family Court – The Enabling Dynamic
On the Accuser Profiles page, you’ll find a summary of scientific research findings describing common personality profiles of both the accuser and the accused.
And while these profiles are not always consistent, more times than not, you’ll find the following behavioral patterns between the two parties:
- There is a predator/prey dynamic in the relationship, where both parties are overly fearful, and tend to be heavily dependent on co-dependent emotional energy.
- Some event, or series of events threatens perceptions of safety, triggering feelings injury and anger. Typically, this pattern is volleyed back and forth throughout the history of the relationship until one party reaches their breaking point. The accuser’s history of maintaining control is typically marked by aggression, threats, domination, and in some cases, reoccurring patterns of emotional abuse. The history of the accused may most obviously manifest itself in passive displays of controlling, including unhealthy and destructive tactics for avoiding conflict.
- A divorce or legal separation action is started. At this point, the relationship has become adversarial. Once attorneys are engaged, trust falls to even lower levels as disruptions to accustomed methods of manipulation by both parties become more frustrating, and the intensities of threat and distrust are ratcheted up to significantly higher levels.
- During the initial process of litigation, both parties come to realize their personal freedoms are going to be constrained. The accuser, typically the custodial parent, learns that he or she will have to adjust their lifestyle goals and future plans to accommodate the needs of the children’s relationship with the non-custodial parent, and vice versa.
- It’s also discovered that child support calculations are a function of the time the non-custodial parent has with the kids. The accuser is used to dominating the accused, and these restrictions to freedom along with financial interests of limiting visitation create significant economic incentives to limit or eliminate the non-custodial parent’s time with the children. In other words, negative feelings, or attitudes toward the accused are increased, and strategies for terminating parenting rights with the preservation of child support are explored and contemplated.
- Often, those with self-interests that enable the desires of the accuser (i.e. friends and family), are consulted, and the accuser takes the position that the parenting rights of the opposing parent deserve to be terminated. And there are essentially two ways to do this: (1) Prove to the Court that the opposing parent is an habitual abuser of illegal substances, or (2) Prove to the Court that the opposing parent presents a significant risk of abuse and neglect on the children.
- At this point, attitudes toward the opposing parent are intensely negative, a decision is made to terminate their parenting rights, and the processes of data mining to support the desires of the accuser begins. Psychologists have long known that people have the ability to focus their attention on information that supports what they want to believe. Which And soon enough, accusers have acquired sufficient information to convince themselves the accused has committed the act.
- The accusing parent has now committed to making the allegations of sexual abuse. Medical experts who will support their desires are shopped for, and social support is harvested from social networks; including friends, family members, church relationships, co-workers, etc.
- Thanks to an abundance of well-intended public awareness information designed to encourage real victims to feel safe coming forward, the accuser has access to a wealth of easily obtainable information providing a step-by-step guide on how to make their allegations without any risks or repercussions.
- Once the allegations are made, the process of alienation from your children begins. You’ll be presumed guilty of the crime until you can show the allegations are unfounded, your parenting rights will be eliminated, and you’ll be restricted to supervised visitation with your kids (which, by the way, sends a message to your kids that something is wrong, that you’re a threat – which of course, your accuser wants anyway….).
- If your accuser has had sufficient time to plan the allegations, he or she may have gathered enough support to launch a criminal investigation against you. If not, then the allegation can be made in court, and when made in court, all that’s required is an allegation; and there is NO requirement for credible evidence that the alleged abuse occurred. The Court is going to react by protecting the children first, and sorting out the truth later.
- Once the allegations are formally made, you should accept that the chances of your accuser ever retracting or owning up to the allegations are slim to none. And this is for two reasons: (1) The accuser’s attorney is going to advise them that in doing so, they’ll open themselves up to the risk of making an admission that can lead to liability for an injury claim by you, and (2) Psychologists know that once a person makes such as strong public commitment, any withdrawal from that commitment presents a serious threat to that person’s self concept and public reputation.
- During all of this, your accuser will have spent of great deal of time, energy, and money harvesting power and desired public image from others. And once committed to allegations of sexual abuse against you, any public displays that erode the credibility of your accuser are going to be intensely resisted. So you can expect they’ll continue to fight you tooth and nail against visitation and custody, they’ll want to extend supervised visitation for as long as they can, and the likelihood of them formally re-raising the allegations after you’re awarded unsupervised time with your kids is well over 80%.
It Sucks, But You Have To Face The Facts
Don’t kid yourself about your Ex – He or she wants you destroyed.
Allegations of sexual abuse can very easily be motivated by a desire to control and punish you, remove restrictions to their personal freedoms, and they can also be motivated by financial greed.
Usually though, the motivations are some combination of all three because false allegations work so well to accomplish them all with one swift, bloody stroke.
And the first decision you need to make is to accept the purpose for the attack, and accept that you can no longer, in any way, trust your accuser.
Dilemmas, Truths, and Travesties
Here’s the problem.
As you can see from the statistics described above, not all cases of sexual abuse are manufactured. Roughly three out of 100 cases involving the allegations of abuse on a child are found to have credible merit.
The divorce court process does in fact discover sexual predators and abusive parents. And for this, we can be thankful and hold out hope that these children can find safety and healing.
The Court, Law Enforcement, Court Investigators, and Medical Professionals have to weigh the risks to children against your rights and interests as a parent and a citizen – and they simply have to protect children.
Still there is a BIG problem. There are those who are so greedy, they’ll intentionally manipulate laws and resources intended to protect real child victims so they can wage war and gain an advantage in court.
And this trend is increasing.
And as much as child predators are the lowest forms of life, those who manipulate these laws for personal gain in a divorce action are no better – they are disgustingly selfish, vile, and ruthless human beings.
Why Public Ignorance Is Encouraged
Few family law professionals, including judges, social workers, and lawyers argue against evidence an increasing trend in the number of unfounded or false allegations of sexual abuse recorded in the divorce courts each and every year.
Recently, social scientists have taken a greater interest in producing studies that try to understand and isolate the driving influences motivating the disturbing upward trend of false allegations of abuse being levied by custodial parents during divorce actions.
But it’s tough.
Because the difficulty has been in determining what portions of this trend may be attributable to the enactment of well-intended laws and public awareness campaigns introduced in the 1970’s that were designed to encourage potential victims to feel safe and come forward or, if this trend is more influenced by conditions created during the 1980’s, when states began adopting and applying the “Best Interests Rule” (this rule veered away from automatically awarding the mother primary and majority custody of the children, and attempted a more objective, more balanced look at custody issues).
While scientists and practitioners agree that both influences are likely at work, no one has been able to credibly determine if one is more pervasive than the other.
Permanent Damage: You Will NOT Be Found Innocent of The Charges, Because NO ONE IS – EVER.
Investigators and the Courts will say that the stress of divorce, along with any acts on your part that contributed to feelings of mistrust during your marriage or after your separation can make your accuser sensitive to priming effects by public awareness campaigns, which can cause them to leap to erroneous conclusions about abuse.
And it’s important to note that acts of mistrust need not be sexual or abusive in nature, they can be anything your enemy claims violated their trust in you.
As a result, false allegations of abuse made against you are likely to be determined to “unfounded” as opposed to “fraudulent“.
Either way, investigators and law enforcement will admit it’s difficult to know what the truth really is, and because we’re dealing with serious crimes against children:
NO ONE is ever found Innocent of the allegations. NO ONE.
What the court will find, is that the allegations are “unfounded” or “lack sufficient credible evidence.”
You will NOT be found innocent by The Family Court.
The Reality of Life After The Allegations
I can’t claim to speak for anyone else, but I can claim to speak for myself, and the experience I’ve had appears to be completely consistent with what’s been reported by other victims and experts.
I’m just going to be straight with you here, and tell you that dealing with a nuclear attack is not easy:
- I’ve already mentioned the personal injury to reputation and how the allegations can continue to be manipulated by enemies for personal gain. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
- Severe depression is common. Once accused by the accuser, you’re immediately stripped of your parenting rights, treated as if you’re a sex offender, and wake up each day under the threat of being falsely convicted of the crime. Normal functioning while severely depressed is extremely difficult, especially under the kind of stress these allegations cause. Depression under these conditions is normal, and your enemy wants you to suffer. Just do the best you can to function and deny your enemy the emotional pay-off they so desperately want.
- You’ll be required to hire a court approved investigator, usually a forensic psychologist, experienced social worker, or former law enforcement official to perform an investigation. Once appointed, these investigators generally have quasi-judicial authority. Furthermore, you’re on the hook for the bill. Fail to pay them, and you may be found in contempt of court.
- If you can’t afford to pay for an investigator, the case will usually be referred to law enforcement for a criminal investigation. Thankfully, I was able to pay for an investigator, but I know of people who didn’t have $20,000 to spend on this (and this doesn’t include attorney’s fees), and so they ended up getting investigated by the police. Police investigations can result in criminal charges being filed, arrests, which under these allegations, usually results in loss of employment. So, if you can help it, try to keep your investigator paid.
- You’ll be ordered into supervised visitation. This means you’ll have to pay someone to babysit you while you see your kids. If you can’t afford the service, it will effect your visitation rights after the divorce is final.
- You’ll be alienated from more people than just your children. Don’t be surprised to find your enemy contacting your friends, your family, your neighbors, your church, your employer, your co-workers, and your clients. This is quite a common behavior. And it still happens to me to this day. People tend to make snap judgments, but don’t worry too much about it, I’ll show you a way to handle this garbage.
- Apart from your friends, you can also expect your enemy to contact those who have bone to pick with you. Be cautious. You’ll have some of your friends and enemies alike turn on you. Just be careful who you’re dealing with.
- You can expect to spend a fortune. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Extreme financial hardship during cases like this is extremely common. You’ll be forced to make decisions between paying your bills, and paying for your investigator and attorney. You’ll also be on the hook for child support and maintenance, and I’m just going to tell you it absolutely sucks seeing your hard money end up in the retainer account your enemies attorneys, private investigators, court investigators, and others. But there is nothing you can do about it. The Court is far more concerned with ensuring the money is paid than it is about what it’s actually used for. It is what it is. Just hang in there, and do the best you can…
- No matter how fraudulent the allegations are found to be, few investigators are willing to hold the accuser fully accountable, and that’s because it’s almost impossible to scientifically determine if the accuser was primed, or if they primed themselves. So there will inevitably be language in the investigator’s report indicating reasons why acts of distrust made on the part of both parties may have contributed to the allegations. Still, the accuser will be given the benefit of the doubt, but you won’t be – the cloud of suspicion will never completely leave you. Still, ultimately it’s the court’s opinion that matters, and like in my case, if the judge believes the allegations were manufactured, they’re going to address it.
- It’s very unlikely you’ll be awarded custody. Usually, the custodial parent is the accuser, and once the allegations are made, the Court is reluctant cause the children any more traumatic changes. The accuser will often be afforded the opportunity to make things right before custody is changed. Typically, it takes several rounds of custody battles, with continuing evidence of alienation before the Court will start to seriously consider changing the primary custodian. Additional allegations may expedite this, but unfortunately, you’ll have to go through the same process all over again.
- The court does NOT award remedies for personal injury for false or unfounded allegations. It doesn’t want real victims to fear coming forward, so don’t expect any punishments, other than maybe a verbal admonishment by the Court to be levied upon your accuser.