When Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced they were filing for divorce last week no one really seemed too shocked. Unfortunately, they are just one of many high profile couples who cannot seem to keep it together midst the scrutiny of the bright lights.
What was surprising, however, is that Angelina Jolie requested sole custody of the couple’s six children and described the divorce as being “for the health of the family.” Allegations of child abuse surfaced immediately, with reports indicating that something may have occurred on a private flight from France to the United States.
What is not clear, however, is whether abuse really occurred or whether the allegation is merely a strategic move by Jolie to get a preferable custodial arrangement. Unfortunately, however, whether or not the allegation is true, the mere allegations of abuse will open up an investigation into the incident by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and could eliminate Pitt’s ability to see his children for a period of time.
While we don’t know the true details of Pitt and Jolie’s case, child custody experts do note that using allegations of child abuse is not an uncommon strategy that some couples use during a divorce or separation.
What’s also important to note with these allegations is that when the issues of child custody is being decided in court it’s probable that the reports generated during the investigation will be reviewed by the court and taken into consideration.
Unfortunately, those falsely accused of child abuse face an uphill battle as they try to convince the court that they are innocent. What can be even more difficult to fight is what some term the expansive definition of abuse and neglect.
What is child abuse and child neglect?
While severe cases of child abuse may be obvious to everyone, there are gray areas which might be harder to define. For example, years ago parents routinely allowed their children to explore, walk the neighborhood, and play at a playground unsupervised. Now we see parents routinely being investigated for these actions, now sometimes termed “parental neglect,” despite whether the child was actually harmed.
How do you fight allegations of child abuse?
While there are a number of parents who try to exploit the child welfare system, there are some strategies you can take if your spouse has filed false charges of child abuse and is using the system against you.
First, consider hiring a lawyer who can answer your questions and tell you exactly what you need to do to protect yourself. Avoid any actions that could be considered inappropriate, such as getting drunk or making suggestive comments. Review laws in your state and determine what is and is not considered child abuse and neglect.
Finally, don’t give up fighting for your kids. If you have been falsely accused your children need you now more than ever.
Divorce is difficult and can bring out the worst in couples. Stay positive. Stay calm and talk to a divorce lawyer.
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