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So you and your partner separate after X amount of years of being together; your emotions will run wild. Think of walking through a legal minefield and you're only scratching if the two of you aren't amicable during this time. Got kids? Here comes the super storm.
Why do I say that? Well, chances are that if the two of you have children together, they will get caught in the crossfire if the one spouse becomes vindictive and bitter. But what happens when one spouse falsely accuses the other of abusing or hurting the child? What happens then?
It's like swimming in murky waters in the dark. You're in complete shock that your ex-spouse would even make such an accusation, making it feel like you've been hit by a wrecking ball. Your mental state is in overdrive trying to process these false accusations made against you. I can assure you that you're probably experiencing doubt, anger, rage and helplessness. So, what should you do to safeguard yourself? Now, before I continue, this is directed to the fathers who are or know someone who has been falsely accused. BUT, I want my readers to know that in no way am I excluding the mothers who have been falsely accused or vilified as well.
The first thing to do is to make a mental assessment. Recognize that what you are being accused of is, although grave, indeed false and that you have nothing to hide (the sooner you accept that your former spouse is playing dirty to ruin your life if you don't do things their way, the better you can fight back). It also helps to confide in someone you absolutely trust, the sooner the better. When I was hit with false accusations by my former spouse, I confided in my sister days after it happened.
The second thing, and just as important, is seek legal counsel with a family lawyer, sooner rather than later. Sometimes the free 30 minute consultation will answer your questions and present your options. If the lawyer advises that you hire him/her to represent you, then it would probably be a good idea to do so. Now if you are a 9-5er like me, chances are that you don't have $5,000 lying around for the retainer. So then a more affordable option would be mediator. They'll do the back and forth between you and your former spouse, without the heavy price tag that comes with hiring a family lawyer. If that fails and there's no room in your budget to hire a lawyer, then you'd want to self-represent.
Third, and probably the most hardest, keep your nose clean and your shit together. It would be too easy to harass and stalk your ex-spouse for not giving you access to your child; you'd be playing into her hands if you go so far as threaten her. That type of behavior won't do you any favors if your case goes before a judge.
The stress of going through the false allegations, lawyers, waiting for court dates and not being able to see your child will cause you much strain; I would suggest talking to someone, preferably a professional. Starting the gym is also beneficial; once you start going regularly and start seeing results, your confidence will get a nice boost. Being around good friends and other social gatherings helps as well.
The emotions associated with being falsely accused can take a toll if you do not take care of yourself. Keep a journal of interactions with your ex-spouse; you'll never know when you'll need to refer to them. Either take pictures or keep a hard copy of letters from children's services closing your file, those are equally important if and when you need to submit a rebuttal (the names of the worker will be on those letters). It also wouldn't be a bad idea to log when you had a visit and/or interview with them as well.
As much as you think that your former spouse does not deserve your child support, pay it anyways. You'd only piss the judge off, burying yourself further.
As of this writing, the family court judge recently (Feb. 13) awarded access to my daughter after almost two months of not seeing her; my ex-spouse had limited access to her supervising (which is another thing that children's workers and judges frown upon in these cases). My girlfriend had played a huge role in guiding me through the family court system, talking to lawyers and pretty much showing me what to expect.