Thursday, October 20, 2005

Film gives distorted view of family law

TimesUnion.com

More on the PBS Special by Glenn Sacks and Jeffery Leving

Excerpts:

"Breaking the Silence" ignores a far more common phenomenon -- divorcing mothers' tactical use of false allegations of sexual abuse. When a father who has daughters seeks joint custody over the objections of a recalcitrant mother, it is standard legal practice to advise the father that a charge of sexual abuse may be coming. According to a study published in Social Science and Modern Society, the vast majority of accusations of child sexual abuse made during custody battles are false, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

False domestic violence allegations are an even greater problem. The filmmakers portray abused women as the victims of sexist judges who refuse to believe them, and who punish them for claiming abuse. In reality, courts are often very tolerant toward false allegations of domestic violence, and divorcing mothers frequently use domestic violence restraining orders as tactical weapons to secure custody.

Many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies, and research shows these orders often do not even involve an allegation of violence. Once the order is issued, the father is booted out of his marital home and can even be jailed if he tries to contact his children.

By the time the court decides custody, a firm precedent has already been set that mom is the primary caretaker, and she will likely get sole (or de facto sole) custody.

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