Judges often treat allegations of child abuse with suspicion

Experienced family law attorneys in Texas and around the country may urge divorcing couples to come to an amicable agreement whenever possible. Protracted court battles drain resources and offer no guarantees, and family court judges often treat allegations of neglect or cruelty with skepticism. Child custody and visitation disputes can be especially contentious, but it may be wise for divorcing parents to think twice before making accusations about bad parenting or child abuse in court.

The problem is that such claims are so pervasive that judges rarely take them seriously unless they are backed up with convincing evidence. The potential consequences of making allegations of child abuse, even if they are true, was shown by a survey of 240 family law cases by a George Washington University law professor. The professor found that mothers who made claims of child abuse lost primary or joint custody of their children 80 percent of the time.

Judges are often making these rulings based upon what some psychologists refer to as parental alienation. It is not uncommon for divorcing parents to vent their frustration or anger in front of their children, and being persistently exposed to this kind of negativity can turn children against even the most caring and nurturing of parents. This has created a situation where even claims of abuse made by the children involved may be treated with suspicion.

While studies like the one conducted by the George Washington University professor are useful for identifying trends, legal experts say that the outcome of individual cases is greatly influenced by the leanings of the judges involved. Experienced family law attorneys could be aware of this, and they may take the record of the judge who has been assigned the case into consideration when developing their strategies in child custody and visitation cases.