February 22, 2022

Child custody battles can get contentious. Here’s how to handle false allegations.

sad child



Nothing is more adversarial and contentious than a child custody battle during a divorce proceeding. A sad example of this is when 1 parent lodges a false allegation of abuse against the other parent in an attempt to win custody of their child. Such parents believe that an allegation of abuse will give them a leg up in the custody litigation.


Making a false allegation of abuse is often a strategy or tactic. It is a cynical yet powerful move. It is an attempt to alienate the child from the targeted parent by undermining or even ending their relationship. To be sure, alienation of a child from a parent is considered a form of psychological abuse.


I have handled hundreds of child custody cases. A sizable number of these cases have involved false allegations of abuse as a strategy or tactic. Professionals involved in child custody cases—attorneys, guardians ad litem, mediators, parent coordinators, judges, and mental health experts—are often perplexed and confused by a false allegation of abuse. Rather than handling the situation effectively and efficiently, such professionals often make matters worse by overreacting or underreacting.


A false allegation of abuse in a child custody matter must be handled correctly. Careful documentation of the falseness of the allegation is critical. Beyond that, adding a mental health expert to the litigation team becomes imperative. This expert must be knowledgeable, experienced, and proactive in his or her approach to the case. A false allegation of abuse must be taken seriously. Otherwise, a lackadaisical approach may imply that the allegation is true or partially true.


False allegations of abuse can be simple or complicated or even bizarre. If the parent is determined to wreak havoc, a criminal charge against the targeted parent might be pursued. Child protective agencies are almost always contacted by the offending parent.


False allegations of abuse in custody matters are an all-too-common phenomenon. They must be handled firmly and decisively by the targeted parent and his or her litigation team. A mental health expert can add much wisdom, energy, and knowledge to the navigation of such a case.


To see more on false allegations, read “False Allegations of Abuse During Divorce: The Role of Alienating Beliefs.”


Dr Blotcky is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama. His specialty is false allegations of abuse and parental alienation. He can be reached at