How can a separated or divorced parent defend against allegations of child abuse or neglect by the other parent?

By Laura Schantz
November 16, 2016

It depends on if they’ve actually contacted Family Services or if they’ve, let’s say, filed for a modification of custody based on these allegations. It’s based on evidence. If they’re saying, “This person is supposed to be clean and sober, but I heard them talk to me on the telephone a few times and they sounded like they are intoxicated,” you can find out. An attorney always tries to find out the truth. It’s extremely unproductive for the client to be fighting against an allegation and trying to prove it’s not true if it is true, or just trying to avoid it or minimize it. It’s better for the attorney, and this always works, to take responsibility. If you’ve relapsed, get into inpatient treatment again, get back into outpatient and your AA meetings, or whatever. Tell the judge you made a mistake, you took responsibility for it, and you fixed it or are working on it. That works 100% of the time. Trying to avoid taking any responsibility for anything typically is going to backfire. This is not to mean that a parent is just saying stuff that’s not true. If it isn’t true, if the attorney does his/her own investigation and truly believes it’s not true, then they’re going to prove that it’s not true.

It’s typically able to be proved if someone is back to using drugs or alcohol. They’re going to show signs of it in their life. If someone has abused a child, there are ways to figure that out. If they are neglecting the child, there’s people, there’s school, there’s friends. Somebody’s going to figure out how that child is being treated, or the child’s going to speak out about it – except for child sexual abuse, as that’s the one that’s really hard to know whether it happened or not.

Laura Schantz, a Beaverton divorce and family lawyer and mediator has helped clients find creative solutions to complex financial matters involving asset division, spousal support, and child support. To learn more about Laura Schantz and her firm, visit

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November 16, 2016
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