Divorce attorneys have a special name for the types of issues that matter most in a divorce custody battle—“191 factors”, deriving from RCW 26.09.191. These 191 factors consist of abuses and addictions that present clear and serious dangers to children, such as a parent’s alcoholism, drug addiction, or domestic violence. One such factor rises above them all in terms of its importance in custody disputes and its risk to children. That factor is sexual assault (child molestation or spousal rape). Judges’ eyes narrow at the mere mention of the term.
Like an allegation of domestic violence, sexual assault can have a decisive impact on all aspects of a divorce, not just child custody. Where the spouse was sexually abused, he or she might argue, rightly or wrongly, that the emotional toll will forever decrease his or her earning capacity, leading to an increased claim for spousal support (alimony) and a disproportionate award of community property. For more on this, read of firm’s webpage on domestic violence by clicking here.
Unlike domestic violence allegations, litigants tend not to aver sexual abuse lightly, especially child molestation. Accusations of this type tend to be few and far between, and they usually garner very close scrutiny. Alleging child molestation is like pulling a gun out on the subway—people pay attention. In fact, it may be more akin to pulling out a gun and pointing it. The courts will almost always respond by appointing a Guardian ad Litem to investigate, and there will be an expectation that the alleging parent will have done everything in his or her power to investigate, document, and stop the sexual misbehavior soon as he or she suspected it.
If accusations to sexual abuse, particularly toward children, are present in your marriage, you should arrange for an immediate medical examination of the victim or alleged victim, including if the victim is you. Next contact an attorney. Taking immediate action can be critical to establishing the truth in court.
If you have not taken immediate action, you still have hope. But expect your case to become considerably more difficult and expensive to prove. Stale evidence often requires more effort, luck, and skillful lawyering in order to ensure decision-makers know the truth.
At Genesis Law Firm, we have successful experience representing both the accuser and the accused in these types of cases, including in post-dissolution major modification. To learn more about our firm’s competitive advantages, click here. You can also contact us for a live explanation of our services by calling 866-631-0028.