The California Legislature, by law, has said that the primary concern in child custody decisions is the “best interest of the children” It is the policy of the State of California that the “health, safety, and welfare of children” are of the utmost importance.
It is not surprising, then, that false allegations of child abuse may be punished in custody battles in California courts.
The law gives judges the authority to take temporary steps deemed necessary to protect a child who is the target of alleged child abuse, pending the outcome of an investigation and report to the court.
When the investigation is complete, the court must make a determination about whether the child abuse allegations were true or false. If the court finds that the allegations were true, the abusing party has an uphill battle to obtain custody of any kind. That is because California law creates a presumption that a party who meets the following criteria should not receive custody:
- The parent committed domestic violence;
- Against the other parent, the child, or the child’s siblings;
- In the last five years.
But what if the allegations were false?
California law provides stiff penalties for parents who knowingly makes false child abuse allegations. First, the party may be required to pay sanctions. The sanctions can include all costs incurred by the party who had to defend the false allegations, including attorney’s fees.
Additionally, the court may limit custody or visitation of the parent who falsely made the allegations under limited circumstances:
- The parent made a report of child sexual abuse;
- That he knew was false when he made it;
- With the intent to interfere with the other parent’s contact with the child; and
- A limitation in custody is necessary to protect the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
All of this must be supported by substantial evidence, and the court must consider California’s policy of frequent and continuing contact of children with both of their parents.
Limiting custody may include reduced visitation or supervised visitation.
As the law regarding false child abuse allegations makes clear, the health and well-being of your children are important not only to you, but to the State of California. In hotly contested child support matters, you need an attorney to fight for you and your child. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.