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Mother makes false allegations of child sex abuse in family law proceedings

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Patrick Parkinson, an expert in family law at the University of Sydney, said it was not unusual for erroneous allegations of sexual abuse to be made in family law cases.

Ms Walsh "appears to be making false claims that her child has been sexually abused in order to restrict the father's contact with the child", the expert concluded. She believed Ms Walsh was exposing the girl to an emotionally abusive situation, embroiling her "in the baseless allegations against the father by encouraging and coaching the child to make such claims".
The allegations against Mr Walsh were investigated by police and staff from the Department of Community Services and NSW Health. Nothing was found to substantiate the claims and the file was closed. Mr Walsh told the court an investigator had reassured him he had nothing to worry about, saying: "I think your wife is only making these accusations to use in the court case." Justice Stewart Austin awarded Mr Walsh sole parental responsibility of the girl, noting the expert opinion that he posed no risk of abuse to his daughter. "Regrettably, the same cannot be said for the mother," the judge said.
Patrick Parkinson, an expert in family law at the University of Sydney, said it was not unusual for erroneous allegations of sexual abuse to be made in family law cases.

False allegations of child sex abuse used as tactic in family law

The Sydney Morning Herald
13 April 2010

Doubt over mother's child sex abuse claim
By Kim Arlington

While they were battling for custody of their daughter, a woman accused her husband of the most disturbing of crimes.

The child was aged three when her parents, known by the court-ordered pseudonyms Mr and Ms Walsh, split in August 2007.

She spent much of her time with her father until the following April, when her mother restricted their contact.

The reason became clear to Mr Walsh when he was served with papers alleging he had sexually abused his daughter. Mr Walsh was devastated, the Family Court in Newcastle heard.

He steadfastly denied having molested his daughter. But for six months he was prevented from interacting with the girl unless his wife agreed to it through her solicitor and in writing. For another six months he was allowed only two hours of contact - supervised by family support workers - every fortnight.

The girl was returned to Mr Walsh's care last August after a report by a court-appointed expert cast serious doubt on the mother's credibility and recommended the child's immediate removal from her mother's home.

Ms Walsh "appears to be making false claims that her child has been sexually abused in order to restrict the father's contact with the child", the expert concluded. She believed Ms Walsh was exposing the girl to an emotionally abusive situation, embroiling her "in the baseless allegations against the father by encouraging and coaching the child to make such claims".

The court heard that Ms Walsh had made similar accusations against another man, her former partner, in 1993. They led to his being charged over the alleged sexual abuse of their infant daughter. While he was in custody awaiting trial, she retracted the allegations and the charges were dismissed. Ms Walsh, who is developmentally delayed and has an IQ of 77, later admitted she had "fabricated the whole thing".

The allegations against Mr Walsh were investigated by police and staff from the Department of Community Services and NSW Health. Nothing was found to substantiate the claims and the file was closed.

Mr Walsh told the court an investigator had reassured him he had nothing to worry about, saying: "I think your wife is only making these accusations to use in the court case."

Justice Stewart Austin awarded Mr Walsh sole parental responsibility of the girl, noting the expert opinion that he posed no risk of abuse to his daughter. "Regrettably, the same cannot be said for the mother," the judge said.

Patrick Parkinson, an expert in family law at the University of Sydney, said it was not unusual for erroneous allegations of sexual abuse to be made in family law cases. "It's not a question of [parents]  making false allegations, being vengeful - there are things that worry them in which they fear sexual abuse," he said.

But quite innocuous situations could "blow up into concerns about misconduct" when there was already a lot of hostility and distrust between parents. "Ambiguous events can be given a sinister interpretation," he said.

It was often difficult to establish the truth of sexual abuse allegations, especially when the children involved were too young to give a clear picture of events, Professor Parkinson said.

"A lot of times we can't really be sure one way or the other and these are the hardest cases."

So what are the repercussions for those making these false and horrendous allegations?
Possible consequenses for those making allegations  for those making  false allegations are: worst case scenario Children to live with other parent and no contact with alledger , best case and common scenario children to have no contact with other parent as no contact for extended period of time  and contact reinstatement being too hard on the child, middle ground contact reinstated  on a gradual basis over several months or even a yr  to allow child to emotionally reconnect with other parent and no punishment.

This goes to the core of the current debate about 50/50 care as the current laws include provisions for false allegations to be punished.  The proposed changes not only say 50/50 care not suitable but also allow false allegations to be non punishable.

Lets not kid ourselves here when a judge allows  allegations to be investigated for 2 yrs  and then when proven false denies the father contact as his children have had no contact  with him and it would be too hard for them to reconnect. this is an issue

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)
Jesus… I can't even fathom the potential for emotional abusers and manipulators to run rampant if there were NO opportunity for consequences. Current legislation ALLOWS for punishment, but even so, it rarely happens, and is entirely problematic to execute. By the time a father has been dragged through the process of spending every last cent on legal representation to defend the frivolous claims - not to mention these types usually drag it out with delaying tactics, thus increasing costs and extending the restricted access - how can he be expected to afford to take a risk on attempting to prove her claims as false, and possibly losing, then having to pay HER costs? It's insane. I think there should be a mandatory investigation of any sexual abuse claim that is found to have no merit - and it should be a matter for police prosecutors.

Leroy, if you know of a thread off the top of your head relating to these proposed changes, could you please point me in the direction of it? I'm interested, but I'm not sure what to search to find it.
Hi guys yes this is very close to home for me Im also interested in finding these proposed changes
Firstly, let me just say that I believe that people that give false accusations/denials of violence or abuse is all kinds of wrong in my eyes. It is abhorrent and I'm sorry for anyone who has to endure it.  

However, like all laws, they do call for review every now and then and I must say that the recent debate does give food for thought.

It is so hard to ever gain an idea on just how much domestic violence occurs in society because it often goes unreported and even when it is reported, how do you prove that it was a certain someone who gave you the bruises?

As a society, if we are going to say Australia Says No, then we need to stand by it. I think that by the recent reviews, thats what Chisholm and others are trying to do. The AIFS quote 20-25% of  cases where shared parenting doesn't work because of Family Violence. It places children at risk. The 'friendly parent' clause is also troublesome in such situations and parents who have experience abuse have to appease the other parent otherwise they tread the line of Parental Alienation. Thats not cool either.


I think what the problem is that good parents are getting tarred with the same brush as that of their bad apple co-parents and that cuts both ways. Good Fathers accused of abuse are finding it hard for people to believe them and Good Mothers who have been abused are finding that they are in the situation of having to prove their ex partners guilty because of their presumption of innocence that underpins our laws which isn't fair for victims or their kids*.

I guess my point is that we all need to understand why there was a review in the first place and recognise the people it proposes to protect. There is a staggering amount of people out there that have left abusive relationships and if as a society we are going to condemn violence in all forms then we need to be consistent with that in all laws. Even more importantly, we cant continue to place children or their families in danger without laws to protect them.

*I dont mean to suggest that only women are victims of violence. Men are too and Im just giving an example.  
Reallyconfused - I get what you're saying, and obviously any reasonable person would have to agree that we need to be vigilant in protecting people - particularly children - from domestic violence and abuse. The problem that is becoming more and more apparent to me lately is that the very legislation we are reviewing and tweaking and strengthening to make it easier for innocent victims to seek justice and protection, is the same legislation that is making it easier and easier for vindictive, manipulative self-serving people to tear apart the lives of their innocent ex partners for their own personal gain. And THAT is an issue that I don't know how we can rectify.

Example (I know these are two entirely different sectors of the community, so comparison is diffcicult, but this is disheartening none-the-less):

I recently discovered that a parent coercing a child into lying for said parent's court case - causing self loathing, anxiety, distress and extreme guilt within that child - is not considered worthy of a look in from DOCS. This is not the first time the child has been coerced (mother's 3rd attempt false allegations), and the pschological effect it is having on the child is clear and visible. Yet it doesn't meet DOCS "threshold" for emotional/psychological abuse, and they say "sorry - case closed."

On the other hand, one erratic, irrational and at times mentally ill ex partner can walk into the office of a chamber magistrate with a jumbled mess of hand scrawled dates accompanied by absolutely fabricated events, get their AVO papers stamped, and bang - we have an interim AVO, guilty until given the chance to prove innocence, and the police can be called at any time to investigate the other party, based on nothing more than whatever story she decides appropriate at the time. There is no "sorry - you don't have enough evidence to meet our threshold". In this case, severely distressed child gets no assistance - not even the opportunity to be interviewed and speak for themself, yet vindictive ex gets given temporary protection without question, a stage on which to plead her rubbish to the world, and the innocent parent is forced to fight to retain their good name and dignity.

Sorry to sound so jaded, but the entire situation just seems backwards to me. And the more I discuss it with others, the more I discover how common this is. And the more I discover there is very little within the system that can be done about it.
How can a federal magistrate use an AVO which has been dismissed as a reason for a decision. I do not know, but it happened, so even when successfully defending an application the application can still be used as fact if a judge so desires.
I totally understand Rabbit. The act of fabricating events that simply haven't happened will go on unfortunately.

My point was that these studies were commissioned for a purpose and for those on the other side of the fence, it confirmed something that wasn't fashionable to say i.e. Shared Care doesn't work in all situation, in fact, in about 25% of cases.
Like all of us, we're all aware of example of how the law is failing. I know of a person who stayed in violent relationship for a year. It took them a year to leave. A year to plan out how they were going to do it and how they would handle the fallout. Staying with the violent person where they were with their child 24/7 was better then leaving their partner. Why? Because if they went to court, they would most likely get some unsupervised time with someone who is also vindictive. Its the insidious nature of the beast that makes it so hard for people to somehow prove that a particular person is violent. The fact that the Act doesn't stand by these people at the moment only adds to the cycle of violence because people are afraid to leave because of the lack of support post-separation.

As for AVOs, police can seek them too as you know. They are there for a purpose and it may very well be a erring on the side of caution. Granted, in some cases they don't do a lot of protecting. As someone said on here (cant remember where) - they aren't a magic forcefield.

As much as I dislike the fact that some people out there will see this as the opening of the flood gates, my optimistic side hopes that it will give victims more hope that once they leave abusive relationships, they or their kids wont have to endure that person again. The Act is so misunderstood by many that people need to know where they stand and feel that if they or their kids are in a dangerous situation that the courts will look after them.
Judges "ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION" all the time sadly its only when a male is accused. It more often than not comes in the middle of a family court battle and ussually ends up with large periods of separation between father and children. I would love the statistics of how many women have had immediate AVO's placed against them initiated by a male, I'm sure there would be almost Zero placed on a women by police on behalf of males.

The harsh reality is courts and judges still operate with a 1950's mentality regardless of the law and punishments prescribed in the law, if they acted as per the law there would be no parents denying access despite repeated warnings from judges, allegations of abuse would need to be proven before denial of contact , allegations wouldnt be kept secret from the accused by the courts and police until arrest and if no arrest the files would be removed and the person would not always remains under suspicion.

Harsh Reality Statistics show children are harmed 10 fold by mother's new boyfriend, defacto, husband than by fathers.

So what happens when a father makes a complaint about mother's new husband abusing children answer - childrens services call the mother she says its all a lie and they close the file then she makes claim about father father is denied access for extended period of time judge decides due to estrangement father to have no access at all ….this is not my personal situation check recent case law this is what is regularly happening.

Why do they only show statisticsthat make fathers look bad when theseshared parenting laws were reveiwed did they not see statistics showing abuse by mum's new boyfriend husband or defacto?

As perlittle johnny and the family tax benefit 2006 to win an election the newMR SHEEN Krudd will win the single mum vote by rolling back shared parenting and equal time laws.

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)

Repercussions for false and horrendous allegations

So what are the repercussions for those making these false and horrendous allegations?

Repercussions for false and horrendous allegations

In short, repercussions for false and horrendous allegations require YOU to lay a complaint with your local Police and demand the complaint be prosecuted.

The FamCA affidavit may have been used in the FamCA or FM Court but was made in the State you or the maker was in, therefore the laws breached are the laws of the State not those of the Commonwealth or FM or FamCA. The prosecutable use of that false evidence (the use of fabricated evidence or false statements are the Commonwealth Crimes for the Commonwealth Police to prosecute) if you are a woman, if you are a man they don't have the resources.

If you are male, you will need to go to the Supper of the Division of the maker of the fabricated evidence or false statements with your MP's support to get your complaint investigated then only physical evidence that physically conflicts with the other evidence for a prosecution to occur.

You cannot be emotional about this, no emotion of revenge, on emotion of hate, ONLY the emotion of the proper application of the law and then plenty of pray because justice is for the other than justice, not the honest person. Yes I am a non believer, not TRUE BELIEVER.  
leroy said
… The proposed changes not only say 50/50 care not suitable but also allow false allegations to be non punishable.
What proposed changes are these? I have not seen anything on the table in relation to any proposed changes to the current Act. If there is something we have missed please feel free to post again on this matter.
leroy said
Lets not kid ourselves here when a judge allows allegations to be investigated for 2 yrs and then when proven false denies the father contact as his children have had no contact with him and it would be too hard for them to reconnect. this is an issue
It most certainly is an issue of serious concern. We are currently dealing with a number of cases where such allegations are made. In a number of outcomes there have been good results so not all are in the category described. In hearings I have been to, some delinquent parents have been on the verge of having contact severely curtailed/reduced, stopped or a reversal of the "lives with parent" status orders made. In many cases there is a realisation that such abuse never actually occurred but this tends to happen only at the last minute after a lengthy process and a great deal of effort from a Federal Magistrate or Family Court Judge to get to the bottom of things… I have posted in other forums about the dubious authorities and activities embarked on and engaged in by JIRT.

The penalties applied in some cases seem unusually light if applied at all.

But when you haven't had any significant contact with your children for a long period of time (sometimes years) and there is an offer on the table at the last minute after a year or three in court, to have 4 or 5 days a fortnight no one is caring to much about penalties. Least of all the "spends time with" parent.

The legislation was significantly revised in 2006 and there are specific time frames setting out when matters are to be dealt with in 60K "Court to take prompt action in relation to allegations of child abuse or family violence". The time frames are set out below.

Two key points "Prompt Action" and "8 weeks" are spelt out.
60K Court to take prompt action in relation to allegations of child abuse or family violence

(1) This section applies if:

(a) an application is made to a court for a Part VII order in relation to a child; and

(b) a document is filed in the court, on or after the commencement of this section, in relation to the proceedings for the order; and

(c ) the document alleges, as a consideration that is relevant to whether the court should grant or refuse the application, that:

(i) there has been abuse of the child by one of the parties to the proceedings; or

(ii) there would be a risk of abuse of the child if there were to be a delay in applying for the order; or Part VII Children

(iii) there has been family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; or

(iv) there is a risk of family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; and

(d) the document is a document of the kind prescribed by the applicable Rules of Court for the purposes of this paragraph.

(2) The court must:

(a) consider what interim or procedural orders (if any) should be made:

(i) to enable appropriate evidence about the allegation to be obtained as expeditiously as possible; and

(ii) to protect the child or any of the parties to the proceedings; and

(b) make such orders of that kind as the court considers appropriate; and

(c ) deal with the issues raised by the allegation as expeditiously
as possible.

(2A) The court must take the action required by paragraphs (2)(a) and (b):

(a) as soon as practicable after the document is filed; and

(b) if it is appropriate having regard to the circumstances of the case within 8 weeks after the document is filed.


(3) Without limiting subparagraph (2)(a)(i), the court must consider whether orders should be made under section 69ZW to obtain reports from State and Territory agencies in relation to the allegations.

(4) Without limiting paragraph (2)(a)(ii), the court must consider whether orders should be made, or an injunction granted, under section 68B.

(5) A failure to comply with a provision of this section in relation to an application does not affect the validity of any order

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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I refer to the federally funded Chisolm and AIFS reports  These reports are proposed changes the government is assessing. These reports recommend a change back to the good old days of allegations without any consequense, denial of contact without  consequense and intimidation  by threat of allegation by lives with parent.

I understand disregarding and denying a judge or registrars orders are punishable in the first instance by warning , the second instance by fine and the third instance by incarceration.

I have found only 1 instance of a mother being incarcerated for a short time due to denial of contact, most cases on austlii  site repeated denial of contact show warnings then fines then warnings again….. again this shows judges who still have a 1950's mentality.

When will judges  move forward with the times and realise mothers do not have more rights because they gave birth to the child/children. Women end relationships and cheat  nowadays.  In the end the excuse is always  in the childrens best interest. I say will be in the best interest of the children when in a disputed case there is no advantage and there is no perceived advantage. Until It is realised that fathers can sometimes be better parents and even have better maternal instinct than mothers not by lawmakers but by judges we will never have a fair system that is in the best interests of the children.

My point is simple regardless of what the law  is judges have not been adhering to it for the last 20 yrs . Family law is the only area of law where Lies,  false allegations, and disobeying of judges orders is encouraged by judges who simply hide behind the line "In the best interest of the children" . The law sets out punishments and judges still refuse to punish.

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)
That is such a horrible thing to do, I dont understand why someone would do that? Things are soooo bad between me and my ex right now but I wouldnt even think of doing that! The worst thing about false allegations is then someone comes along with real ones and people mightnt believe it. How could anyone do that to their children?
Some live with parents will do anything to stop the other parent spending time with their child.
Unfortunately there are also 'spends time with' parents who make false allegations also.

I know of one couple (both spends time with parents of their separate children) who have made false allegations against their respective former partners. They see it as a legitimate tactic. Luckily each time they have done this investigations have shown no grounds for the accusations.

But there is never any recourse  :dry:

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."
Bill Cosby
 :thumbs:
justin said
In short, repercussions for false and horrendous allegations require YOU to lay a complaint with your local Police and demand the complaint be prosecuted.

The FamCA affidavit may have been used in the FamCA or FM Court but was made in the State you or the maker was in, therefore the laws breached are the laws of the State not those of the Commonwealth or FM or FamCA.  

 
Justin you are quite right these type of false allegations are horrendous. And I hastily add that deterrent steps need to be put in place to nip these false allegations in the bud.

However, the state courts are NOT the appropriate forum for any informations to be laid. The offences are committed for the purpose of family court proceedings, which for a quick interpretation are proceedings taking place within a Commonwealth Place. The phrase Commonwealth Place (and even has its own act) is important here as it invokes the jurisdiction of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and as such it is necessary to look at sections 31 and 35 of that act. I guarantee if you walked into a police station to make a complaint such as this they would tell you it is a civil matter and march you out the door.

Unfortunately as it stands at the moment, if the FMC Mag or FCoA Judge does not refer the relevant false testimony to the Director DPP for consideration of charges the only recourse available is for people to undertake their own private prosecution. This is not something that should be undertaken lightly as the burden of proof is BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

SEC SPCA - Would it be beneficial to start a new forum discussion on false/perceived false allegations which I will monitor?

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas
Liberi Primoris said
SEC SPCA - Would it be beneficial to start a new forum discussion on false/perceived false allegations which I will monitor?
I will set something up !! I am suprised at the increase in ADVO applications in NSW currently and have been involved in two this last week where they were nothing short of scandalous and ficticious allegations. The fact that the Domestic Violence Hot Line has even advised one mother against taking an application and then a police officer the very next day decided to make out a case application is perturbing to say the least. Also the manner in which the NSW Police served one of those was quite frankly not approriate and is the subject of a Police Complaints Commission application.

I also not that private applications through the Judicial registrat at the local court are handled in a very low key way by the Police as opposed to an application made at the front desk of a Police station which gets immediate attention.

 

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
The raising of allegations of abuse (from both male and female parties) has increased dramatically as of late. Discussions I have had with those specializing in family law show that a great deal of their time is now burdened with trawling through disclosures to ascertain whether the allegations are real, perceived, or for a lack of a better word warranted. 

It is a very difficult situation, as you do not want to risk the need to disclose actual events for fear of repercussions, but on the same token, there definitely needs to be a deterrent from raising allegations which are known to be false or improbable.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas
In NSW we would need to see our respective local members to attempt to see if there was any "heart" to look at any amendments to the legislation or any possible guidelines that could be issued to front line Police through the Attorney General. I am aware that recent guidelines have directed Police Prosecutors to reduce or refuse to enter into 'undertakings'. I am not sure of the directive but am looking into it.

'Undertakings' in the past have been particularly useful instruments because orders without admission are bandied about in the same context as an ADVO order having been made. Certainly at a school they are taken as a full ADVO order and why would a school know any different as they see the court seal and that's as far as they read.

I am not sure of the validity of an ADVO made without admission in a Federal Magistrates Court hearing but I suspect they would certainly be the subject of a few lines in the affidavit and may rub off in getting a view across that otherwise may disadvantage a respondent.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
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