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NCJ Number: 135522 Find in a Library
Title: Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in Custody Disputes: Getting to the Truth of the Matter
Journal: Family Law Quarterly  Volume:25  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer 1991)  Pages:193-216
Author(s): M S Fahn
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 24
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A child who is sexually abused by a parent may be the most vulnerable of all victims, and the legal system's mechanisms for protecting children from intrafamily sexual abuse are inadequate.
Abstract: When parties litigate a child custody dispute and an allegation of child sexual abuse is raised, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Because intrafamily child sexual abuse is so difficult to prove, many investigations result in unsubstantiated findings. Many separated or divorced mothers cannot be confident that reporting is the best way to protect her child, given the existing legal system. Some mothers hide their children out of desperation and frustration rather than comply with the court order for a transfer of custody or extended, unsupervised visitation. In the context of a custody dispute with unsubstantiated allegations, there is a tendency to suspect that the person who raised the allegations, usually the mother, deliberately made a false accusation in a vengeful attack against her husband. The controversy is compounded by reports of some psychologists and psychiatrists who claim that allegations of child sexual abuse in custody disputes are likely to be false. Family court judges need training to increase their awareness of intrafamily sexual abuse and enhance their ability to elicit and evaluate evidence. In addition, judges should read pertinent current materials, not only from the legal field, but also from the disciplines of psychology and sociology. Judges who inform themselves of the politics of child sexual abuse will be better able to evaluate arguments. Additional recommendations focus on therapy and supervised visitation. 139 footnotes
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse
Index Term(s): Abused children; Child abuse investigations; Child custody; Child victims
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