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A new study shows courts are taking a more serious stance on allegations of parental alienation when it is accompanied by potentially false claims of abuse. Of course, that wasn’t its purpose. The author, Professor Joan S. Meier of George Washington University, set out to prove how women are at a major disadvantage in family court whenever allegations of abuse are involved. In the process, she inadvertently pointed out why fathers shouldn’t be afraid to fight back.
Family Courts Biased Against Abused Women?
There are two immediate problems with this study. First, it treats an allegation of abuse as proof that a father is unfit. Worse, it assumes allegations are always true and that courts are not qualified to disprove them.
Meier contends that women who claim spousal, child or child sexual abuse in court are losing custody at an alarming rate. In fact, she treats cases where alleged abusers receiving any amount of unsupervised visitation as proof of court bias against abused women. But we know that it’s because the courts are starting to see through false allegations of abuse, and to consider the parental alienation created by false accusers when they are considering how to apportion parenting time.
The stats for her research show that a majority of abuse claims made during custody battles aren’t considered serious enough to keep parents and children apart. That could be evidence of bias. It could also be evidence that contentious custody battles lead to exaggeration or even outright false accusations.
One good thing the study does prove? Fighting parental alienation in court helps men get more time with their children.
How Claims of Parental Alienation Help Fight Allegations of Abuse
Meier’s research team scoured 4,388 published opinions on custody cases taking place between 2005 and 2014. They looked for cases where parents accused their spouse of spousal abuse, child abuse or child sexual abuse. Once identified, researchers noted whether allegations were believed, whether claims of parental alienation were also made and the resulting custody arrangement.
Researchers discovered that courts don’t believe most abuse allegations:
- Courts believed allegations of abuse (spousal, child, child sexual) in 36% of cases.
- Courts believed allegations of child abuse 21% of the time.
- Courts believed allegations of child sexual abuse 19% of the time.
Claims of alienation against the parent making the abuse allegations, if proven, have a powerful impact:
- Courts are 2x less likely to believe allegations of abuse.
- Courts are 4x less likely to believe allegations of child abuse.
- Only 1 in 51 child sexual abuse cases are believed when alienation has been reported.
When parental alienation could be proved, the perpetrators lost custody at the same rate whether they were male or female.
As a society, we expect the courts to be so biased in the woman’s favor that sometimes men don’t put up a fight. They’re afraid to be accused of abuse, so they settled for paying exorbitant amounts of child support under the table and seeing their kids whenever it’s convenient for their co-parents. This study can offer parents hope.
Are you struggling with the fear of being kept from your children? Is your co-parent using threats to keep you under control? Navigate these and other tough custody issues with a pro-dad attorney. Get started today with the State-by-State Directory of Legal Organizations and Referral Agencies.