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What provokes a false allegation of abuse during divorce?

Everyone has probably heard a story or two about someone who has faced false allegations of either domestic violence or child abuse when going through a divorce or a custody battle.

What would make someone do that? A false allegation of abuse is inherently damaging to an individual's reputation. It can ruin their relationships with friends, relatives and employers. Surely, nobody who plays fair would ever make a false accusation.

The problem is that the people who make false accusations aren't interested in playing fair. They're interested in what they can get out of the false accusations. Potential benefits include:

  • Free support in the form of victim counseling
  • Free legal assistance offered to the victims of domestic violence
  • A better chance at getting full custody of a child
  • Control of the family home which the accused has to vacate due to a protective order
  • Public sympathy from people who would never dream that they are supporting a false accusation of domestic violence or abuse
  • A chance to drain the finances and energy of the other person, who is now embroiled in the criminal legal system and less able to divert money to a divorce or custody battle
  • An opportunity for revenge through public humiliation against the person accused for leaving or asking for the divorce

Accusers who make false claims of abuse or domestic violence are generally likely to have certain characteristics. Those include:

  • A personality defect such as a histrionic or borderline personality disorder
  • Paranoia
  • High levels of defensiveness
  • Poor personal insight
  • Sensitivity to appearances
  • Poor impulse control
  • Vindictiveness

In addition, they may be consumed with the past, becoming extremely focused on a partner's shortcomings in the relationship they once had. This can lead to very destructive behavior.

If you see your spouse or ex in this description, you may be heading toward a false accusation the moment that you assert your right to independence and try to move on with your life. If you believe that it might happen, it's wisest to discuss the possibility, in advance, with a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Shrink4Men, "False Allegations in Divorce and Custody Battles: The Personality Types of False Accusers and the Falsely Accused," accessed Feb. 23, 2018

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