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False abuse claims in child custody cases can hurt the kids most

False abuse claims in child custody cases can hurt the kids most

Divorce and relationships writer Monique Honaman of the Huffington Post recently found herself confronted with two situations that shocked her. In the course of a single week, she learned of two men -- demonstrably good, stable, non-abusive parents, she maintains -- who are being dragged through the courts because of false accusations of child abuse. In each case, she says, the real issue is that their exes don't want to have to have to deal with them and are therefore trying to wrest away their child custody and visitation rights.

In each case, Honaman claims, the fathers want to be involved in their kids' lives and are trying to work with their ex-wives on co-parenting. In each case, both the men and their extended families are accused of horrific abuse. In each case, the men have been forced to spend down what savings they have in order to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs in order to protect their rights. One of them had no choice but to use his kids' college fund to defend himself.

Could this be true? Absolutely. Unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon.

When one of a child's parents really is a danger, it truly might be necessary to limit that parent to supervised visitation or, in severe cases, seek termination of parental rights. The courts are here to help in such cases.

When both parents are fit, however -- not abusive, addicted or dangerously neglectful -- both Honaman and family courts across the country agree that it's in the children's best interest to have strong, supportive relationships with both parents.

If the best interest of the children aren't enough to convince a parent that false allegations of abuse are a bad idea, Honaman suggests they consider the financial impact on themselves and their children. With the accused parent spending their savings down -- and the accuser probably doing so as well -- it's really the children who end up getting hurt. They may no longer be able to live where they want or do the things they're accustomed to doing. Their college savings may be spent, and money previously available for sports or school activities goes down the drain.

"For those of you who might be squirming a little bit right now, perhaps recognizing a bit of your behavior, I ask you to stop and think for a moment about who it is you are hurting," Honaman writes. "I know we all have that mama bear mentality and want to protect our children from harm, but sometimes it can be taken too far. We may say we are 'protecting' them, when really we are 'harming' them."

Source: The Huffington Post, "Kids Need Dads!" Monique Honaman, March 5, 2013

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