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Sexual Abuse Allegations in Divorce and Custody Disputes

NCJ Number
Behavioral Sciences and the Law Volume: 9 Issue: 4 Dated: (Autumn 1991) Pages: 451-468
H Wakefield; R Underwager
Date Published
18 pages
Professionals who investigate allegations of child sexual abuse must examine each case carefully, avoid immediately dismissing an allegation as false because the parents are divorcing, and resist aligning themselves with the reporting parent's agenda or presuming guilt.
Although most professionals believe that the highest percentage of false allegations of child sexual abuse occur during divorce and custody conflicts, disagreement exists regarding how many of these allegations are false. Some professionals assert that they choose to "err on the side of the child" by not taking any chances when abuse is alleged. However, the child is also harmed when a false accusation is viewed as true. The nonabused child has been subjected to a process of interrogation and often to inappropriate therapy, and the relationship with a formerly loved parent may be irretrievably damaged. Therefore, assessment and evaluation must be done with rigorous adherence to the highest standards of the profession, and professionals must be aware of the characteristics of real and false allegations. 103 references