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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Weaponized domestic allegations and divorce: What to know

There’s no question that domestic violence is a very real issue in many marriages. However, it’s also true that allegations of domestic violence are sometimes used as a weapon in divorces.

Weaponized domestic violence allegations refer to the manipulation of the court system – which generally takes the approach that “it’s better to be safe than sorry” when it comes to granting ex parte protective orders – to gain the perceived upper hand in some factor of the divorce.

What are the usual motivations for false domestic violence claims?

Experts say that weaponized allegations of abuse are a form of psychological warfare and abuse – one that can be particularly effective. Several factors could motivate someone to resort to this kind of tactic during a divorce, including:

  • Custody and parenting time disputes: Custody battles are probably the most common source of false allegations. Alleging domestic violence can create doubts about the accused’s ability to provide a safe environment for the children, potentially leading to a more favorable custody arrangement for the accuser.
  • Financial gain during the property division process: By portraying one spouse as an abuser, the accuser may hope to secure a larger share of the marital assets, either by gaining the sympathy of the court or because their spouse may be desperate just to get through the process and break off all contact.
  • Retaining control over the accused: In some cases, a spouse might use false allegations as a way to retaliate against their partner for perceived wrongs or to maintain control over the divorce proceedings. A narcissistic spouse, for example, may have no qualms about lying to keep the drama going.
  • Manipulating public perception: Public sympathy often sides with the alleged victims of abuse, and people do make up their minds based on nothing more than rumors. Falsely portraying oneself as a victim can garner support from friends, family and even legal professionals and encourage the accused to simply give the accuser whatever they want.

Weaponizing domestic violence allegations can have far-reaching consequences for both the accuser making the false allegations and their victim, especially when there’s reputational damage involved. If you’re navigating this situation, it can be impossible to effectively manage your divorce without experienced legal guidance. Be as proactive as you can in safeguarding your legal rights accordingly.