Legal proceedings involving couples can become highly contentious. This is certainly true for matters involving divorce. Spouses often have a different recollection of the facts and it's not uncommon for harsh things to be said to one another in court. Sometimes these statements are based on emotion and are not accurate. However, if not corrected, they can have a detrimental impact on issues between the couple, including child custody.
For this reason, it’s important to have a family law lawyer on your side during any domestic violence matter. A qualified attorney can help to ensure that lies made to the court don’t impact your future or the future of your children.
Criminal Convictions Require Proof
It’s important to note that a mere allegation of spousal abuse does not mean that you will be charged with domestic violence. Criminal offenses require evidence to back up the claims. Judges are trained to recognize that witnesses are not always credible, particularly if there is an ulterior motive.
Now, keep in mind that this standard of proof is lower when it comes to emergency restraining orders. These are often entered on minimal information, but they are temporary in nature. For criminal convictions, however, the burden on the prosecution is very high.
Specifically, the prosecutor must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This typically requires more than just a single person’s testimony.
Note that even in cases where a temporary restraining order is entered against you, this does not necessarily mean that criminal charges will be filed.
Conviction of Domestic Violence Can Affect Custody Orders
Domestic violence convictions are serious. Further, an offense within the last five years could have a detrimental impact on your ability to gain custody of your children. The court will take these matters into consideration and may choose to order a supervised custody arrangement.
Note that these offenses don’t completely prevent a parent from having any custody. In all cases, the court will consider the circumstances and make a determination based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Now, an important factor to remember is that this only applies if there was an actual finding of domestic violence by a judge. Mere unsubstantiated accusations made in a court proceeding do not have this same effect.
You Have the Right to Defend Yourself
If false claims are made against you, you can provide your own evidence to contradict the statements. Examples might include
- Finding witnesses that will testify on your behalf,
- Pointing out factual inconsistencies in the statements, and
- Presenting motives that would lead your spouse to lie.
Due to the serious nature of these accusations, it’s important to have the evidence that supports your case ready before the court hearing. You have the right to have an attorney on your side to present your side of the facts.
Keep Witnesses Around
If you have been accused of domestic violence towards your spouse or children, it’s often good practice to not be alone with them until the court process is resolved. Having others around makes it more difficult for false accusations to be made. If these statements are made, you can use the witnesses that were present to refute the claims.
Follow All Court Orders
It’s important to note that you must follow any order issued by the court. This is true even if you believe it was made based on false accusations.
If you violate a court order, it becomes much more difficult to challenge a subsequent order, including a custody arrangement. Further, your failure to follow the order can lead to additional sanctions and be used against you in later proceedings.