Using False Domestic Violence Claims as Custody Maneuvers–’She called 911 and smiled at me like a cat who had just caught the largest mouse…’June 28th, 2007 by Glenn Sacks, MA for Fathers & Families
Recently several hundred of you wrote to the California Judicial Council’s Domestic Violence Practice and Procedures Task Force expressing concern over their recent report “Draft Guidelines and Recommended Practices for Improving the Administration of Justice in Domestic Violence Cases.” In my original call to action I noted:
“The [report's] recommendations focus on court leadership, restraining orders, criminal law procedures, and other issues.
“There’s a big problem with the Draft Guidelines–they don’t deal with the false allegations issue. Thousands of men reading this right now have had restraining orders based on false allegations of domestic violence made against them as part of a custody battle.
“Beyond victimizing many innocent men and the children who love and need them, false allegations also draw resources and credibility away from women who really are victims of domestic violence, and who need protection.
“Also, the Draft Guidelines do not address the issue of male victims of domestic violence, even though research establishes that women are just as likely to physically attack their male partners as vice versa, and a substantial minority of domestic violence-related injuries are sustained by male victims.”
John Hamel, LCSW, of the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center, Michael Robinson of the California Alliance for Families and Children (who suggested our recent call to action), Marc Angelucci, Esq., myself, and many others are working to try to reform California’s (and other states’) flawed and deeply discriminatory domestic violence laws and practices. To learn more about the problems with current domestic violence policies, click here.
I am reprinting, with permission, some of the more notable letters which my readers have sent the Domestic Violence Task Force. One of the letters, which details how a woman used the system against her husbands by making false claims, appears below:
“In 1993, I was falsely accused of domestic violence. A week before the accusations, my former wife actually told me she would get me removed from our home. I had no idea how, but I wasn’t about to leave my daughter and stepdaughter alone with her. A week later, I watched as she called 911 and smiled at me like a cat who had just caught the largest mouse. The accusations were used to remove me from my home, and for my spouse to get the edge in our custody fight over our 2 year old daughter. Although I had done nothing, I was treated like a common criminal.
“The charges were later dropped, but the damage had been done…to my reputation, to my finances, and to my outlook on the criminal justice system. I was husband #2 to my former wife, and it was no surprise to me to find out that she had done the same exact thing to husband #1. The pattern: have a baby, make up false charges of domestic violence, get the husband removed from the home, play the “victim”, win custody and go for as much of his money and possessions possible.
“Just a few months ago, I got an early-morning phone call from a man who was crying. It was husband #5. Yes, #5. Guess what? He had been thrown in jail because his wife (same woman as above) had falsely accused him of domestic violence. He swore to me that she was the aggressor, and that he had done nothing to her, even in his own defense. He also told me that my daughter (now almost 16) was a witness to her mother’s antics and acting…
“I gave him what sympathy and advice I could. His criminal charges were also dropped, and he is now going for custody of their 9 month old son. I pray that he wins custody so another child won’t be subject to what my daughter has been witness to with her mother: dozens of failed relationships with men, a dozen different homes in 3 different counties, 6 different schools, 4 different stepfathers…no continuity, no stability, no consistency. I fear for my daughter’s future and her relationships with men as an adult.
“Remember that all this started with false charges. There has to be some penalty for intentionally and fraudulently trying to ruin someone’s life for your own gain. My case involved a woman doing this to me (and others). I’m sure there are men who also take advantage of the law and make up claims of domestic violence. It’s not a gender issue…it’s an issue of honesty and accountability. People have to know that they can’t lie and get away with it. Otherwise, more liars will get their way in court and more children will suffer.
“Please include penalties for making false claims of domestic violence.”