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What happens if your child's father maliciously files court documents saying you've abused your child?

I am the mother of 3. A 13 year old boy, an 8 year old girl and one who passed away who would be 3 now.

I am moving to FL and my son's father (who I was never married to) has made the last year of my life a living hell. The last straw was when he filed emergency papers saying that he was told by 3 people (all mandated reporters) that he should seek custody immediately because I was physically abusing my son.

My son has a chronic illness and one of the accusations was that I was withholding his medication. If that were true, my son (who has never been hospitalized due to his illness) would be dead or dying.

I have letters from all parties mentioned saying that they NEVER told him any such thing and attesting to my parenting skills.

I have spoken with several attorneys who say that I should have it stricken from the record and impounded... then act like it was never filed. He needs to be stopped. Any experience?

Answer Question

Asked by Reesespeace at 10:34 AM on Sep. 12, 2013 in Parenting Debate

Level 2 (4 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • If they were mandated reporters then there would already be record of your alleged abuse. Make sure you have documetation and contact info from all parties involved, make copies and provide them to your attorney.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:39 AM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • Thank you QuinnMae. I've already gotten letters from all mentioned and they are testifying in court. I just don't understand why he can't be charged with slander. There was no CPS report filed and months have passed since these allegations were brought before the court. My career could have been impacted as well as the removal of my other child.

    I thought it was odd that he filed these papers without the knowledge of his attorney. He has gotten away with so much over the years and I really need them to punish him somehow to make him stop.

    Comment by Reesespeace (original poster) at 10:44 AM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • I find it odd that he claims that the kids are being abused yet never reported it to the one agency that could give abused children the emergency help they need.

    Have you been to court in front of the judge yet? Has he had to answer for these allegations and his lies? The judge will see right through him and they won't take it lightly. Especially when testimony will directly contradict his allegations and suit.

    Can you sue him for harrassment? Why can't you sue him for libel? Is it only because you can't prove that it caused damage to your reputation?

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:51 AM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • impounded......or expunged?

    im·pound [v. im-pound; n. im-pound]
    verb (used with object)
    1. to shut up in a pound or other enclosure, as a stray animal.
    2. to confine within an enclosure or within limits: water impounded in a reservoir.
    3. to seize and retain in custody of the law, as a document for evidence.

    ex·punge [ik-spuhnj]
    verb (used with object), ex·punged, ex·pung·ing.
    1. to strike or blot out; erase; obliterate.
    2. to efface; wipe out or destroy.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 11:38 AM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • I'm going to guess he can't be sued because it can't be proven he did it maliciously. If he claims to have done it because he was truly concerned for the welfare of the child(ren), that true concern would mean it's not slander/libel. To be slander/libel, it has to be not true and done for purely malicious reasons - which have to be proven. You have to be able to prove that the sole reason they did it was to be mean, to ruin your reputation, to harm your life. And in this situation, a claim that he was worried about the kids is plausible (even if not true), so they can't say it was malicious.

    However, I also notice you say "charged with slander." I don't think (and I might be wrong) that slander/libel is a criminal charge, but something you would file a civil lawsuit for. You might want to talk to your lawyer again.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 12:44 PM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • I can't sue him because it is a court document but the judge can penalize him. I have to ask for it to be stricken and expunged or impounded. If the judge says no to it being expunged, impounding it will keep anyone from ever reading the document in our file.

    It was malicious. He and his girlfriend had been dating for 9 years. I was served with the papers on the Friday that began his weekend with our son. Our son was returned on schedule that Sunday. He married his girlfriend without our son or his mother being present on Monday. We were in court that Thursday and he was shocked that I had the letters.

    No he can't be charged with slander but he can be found guilty of it. Hopefully, my attorney will be able to find a way to take care of this. We are going to court on the 23rd.

    I just think it's odd that I was a "fit" mother until I decided to move to FL. Then after 11 years of doing it alone I'm unfit.

    Comment by Reesespeace (original poster) at 2:13 PM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • impounding it will keep anyone from ever reading the document in our file.

    Do you mean sealing it? I've never heard of impounding when it comes to court records. I've heard of sealing, like a name change or something, where it's sealed so that no one can read it, but never impounding.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 6:02 PM on Sep. 12, 2013

  • The only situation I have personal knowledge of involved the co-parent filing for temporary custody, and a temporary restraining order, and requesting full custody with limited supervised visitation. He accused his co-parent of abuse, and included an allegation of abuse made by the (young) child in front of an E.R. doctor.
    The mother filed an appeal immediately.
    The father's allegations resulted in a CPS (DFS) case being opened right away. This led to interviews with both parents by a social worker, home visits by the same case worker, an interview & evaluation of the child with a child advocate, investigations by law enforcement, and a hearing (of the appeal) before a judge that included a statement from DFS regarding their findings. The judge based his decision (to overturn the granting of temporary full custody, or to honor the mother's appeal) on the DFS report & case worker's recommendation.
    The father wasn't "penalized."

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:04 PM on Sep. 18, 2013

  • I imagine any penalties would be a matter of pursuing a civil lawsuit.
    It is galling but it makes sense that a parent should be able to make allegations that lead to investigation of the situation, without fearing "penalty" if no wrong-doing is found. It shouldn't negatively affect that parent's contact with the child, or ability to pursue or have custody, etc.

    In the situation I know about, perhaps some kind of civil case could be made. The law enforcement officer who came out to talk to the mother learned about the mother's recent start of a new relationship, and about a letter her co-parent had written only two months earlier asking her to take him back. The officer read it and told her, "Save that letter."
    But I'm not sure what is possible in terms of a civil suit (sounds like there are limits if the "slander" involves a court document?)

    But I think an investigation & a decision happens in response to filing allegations.

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:13 PM on Sep. 18, 2013

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