Arons and Solomon | October 16, 2018 | Articles
When an allegation of domestic violence is made to the authorities, there are legal procedures in place to protect the accuser and the accused. Every claim is taken seriously by law enforcement and the courts, as it should be.
The legal definition of “domestic violence” is outlined in the New Jersey Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19). When an incident occurs that meets one or more of these criteria, the survivor of the abuse can file a domestic violence complaint and seek a temporary restraining order against the alleged abuser.
Temporary restraining orders are relatively easy to obtain, and often do not require the courtroom presence of the defendant. Most of the time, defendants are not aware the process is in motion until they are delivered the protective order.
This streamlined process has swiftly ensured the safety of countless survivors of domestic violence. But unfortunately, there are individuals who try to manipulate the system by making false claims of domestic abuse.
In some cases, the false accuser is trying to hurt the partner’s reputation and career. In other cases, the false accuser is trying to gain a strategic advantage in a custody case. Whatever the motivation may be, making a false accusation is a reckless and shortsighted deception that takes valuable time and resources away from the true victims of domestic violence.
If you believe an ex-spouse is making false accusations against you, stop everything and immediately take this one action:
Seek the advice of legal counsel, specifically a custody and divorce lawyer.
General law practices will take on divorce cases, but that is like going to a general practitioner to treat a broken bone. When custody is at risk, the stakes are too high. You want a specialist.
A family law attorney works exclusively on these cases every day. They are familiar with all the settlement options available to you outside of the courtroom, including negotiation, mediation, and collaborative divorce.
Odds are, if your ex-spouse is making false accusations about you, good faith negotiations are no longer an option. Established matrimonial litigators are familiar with the outcomes of similar cases in your area, and can plan a legal strategy accordingly.
Do not wait for your ex-spouse to act first. Just because you haven’t been issued a protective order does not mean false accusations aren’t a problem. If you suspect a temporary restraining order will be filed soon, you should seek the advice of a divorce and custody lawyer immediately.
Always have a witness. Moving forward, any necessary interaction between you and your ex-spouse should be in front of a trusted witness to prevent future false allegations. Do not try to work things out on your own, it will only give the false accuser more material to work from.
Stay calm. After you meet with a lawyer, remain calm during every interaction with your ex-spouse that follows. Any evidence that you lost your temper can be used to build a case against you in court. This includes venting on social media.
If a protective order is in place, do NOT contact your spouse. Do not contact your spouse under any circumstances. Do not have a third party contact the ex-spouse on your behalf. If your spouse reaches out to you, do not engage, but do save a record of that attempted contact and give it to your lawyer. Exchanges that seem completely innocent at the time can -and will- come back to devastate your divorce settlement.
Follow the rules of the protective order to the letter, no exceptions. Even when the allegations are false, breaking a protective order can have serious legal consequences. It can hurt your divorce settlement, put your custody arrangement at risk, and possibly land you in jail. The dangers of breaking a restraining order cannot be emphasized enough.
Protect Yourself, Protect Your Children
A restraining order filed under false pretenses can be incredibly frustrating. It can prevent you from living in your house and seeing your children. Even so, it’s critical to have the order dismissed or modified as quickly as possible by respecting the boundaries of the law.
If your ex-spouse continues to make false accusations, you have options. Seek the advice of legal counsel in your jurisdiction to know exactly what your rights are.
The divorce and custody lawyers at Arons & Solomon work with clients and families in the northern New Jersey and New York City areas.