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Sex Abuse Allegations and Divorce

There seems to be an increase in sex abuse allegations when parties are getting divorced in Northern Kentucky.  Divorce is traumatic on children and often the children are put in a position to choose sides.  With the increase in granting of joint legal custody and the court's tendency to grant shared parenting in majority of cases - Kentucky case law mandates that joint custody should be preferred - there is very little that would move the court to grant sole custody to either parent.  Sex abuse allegations are the one thing that will often change that playing field. The increase in allegations does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in sex abuse.  To the contrary, there are many more allegations that are ultimately dismissed or ignored by grand jury or prosecutors.  Without further proof, an allegation by a minor child is difficult for a prosecutor to substantiate to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.  That said, the same proof which may be insufficient in a criminal case, can be used in a civil or juvenile case where the standard differs.  Often the accused is placed int eh difficult position of wanting to defend himself in the juvenile or divorce case, but is advised by a criminal defense attorney to remain silent to avoid criminal prosecution.  Often times there are 3 cases pending at the same time under the juvenile court abuse and neglect, under the family court for divorce or dissolution and under the criminal court for charges pending from the investigation. The lawyer is also placed int he difficult position of advising a client in a civil case which may lead to criminal prosecution.  The right to remain silent when questioned pursuant to the Fifth Amendment remains, however custody and support may be established while the criminal case is still investigated.  Many family law attorneys will advised an accused client to retain separate criminal counsel in these types of cases. As an aside, it is often the case that the ultimate resolution is dismissal of the criminal case and no finding in the civil action.  Family law judges need to come down hard on parents who coach or fabricate allegations, taking custody away from them as fast as custody is removed form a suspected child molester.  Newspapers need to report on the damage to children of false allegations.  False allegations come from a variety of sources, which include a well meaning grandparent requesting that someone be investigated, to a parent coaching their child to make false allegations.  Additionally, sometimes children feel the need to choose between the parents and have been made aware of this concern through their school.  More thorough investigation is also needed in a number of cases to ferret out the factual from the false allegations.  In an effort to not offend the child, many times the validity of their statements are not questioned to see if they withstand even the slightest scrutiny. If you have been or know someone who has been alleged to have abused a child, legal counsel should be the first step.  If you wish to consult or have questions, contact Michael W. Bouldin at mwbouldin@fuse.net or call 859-581-MIKE (581-6453) in Northern Kentucky.

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