A restraining order is the most commonly used legal tactic to make a false allegation of domestic violence. If you have reason to believe your partner is about to make a false accusation, it is critical that you act quickly to protect your children, your reputation, your assets, and even your career:
- Get legal advice from a qualified attorney.
- Assemble your valuable papers (birth certificate, car title, legal documents, etc.) so they can’t be stolen by your partner. Place them in a newly-opened safe deposit box or other safe location.
- Open a checking account just in your name so your partner can’t take your money.
- Tell a family member or trusted friend, in case you need to find a place to stay on short notice.
- Change the passwords on your computer, cell phone, and personal bank accounts. Remove external hard drives and other electronic storage devices. Do not leave your cell phone lying around.
- If you have any firearms or other weapons, move them to a secure location away from your home. Do not engage in firearms training or target practice until the situation is resolved.
- Do not send or receive personal emails from your home computer. Use a computer at your office or at the library.
- Avoid any actions that could later be misconstrued in a court of law:
- Do not engage in put-downs or insults, especially in writing or by voice mail or an answering machine.
- Do not talk or joke about violence or suicide.
- Do not engage in kinky sex or joke about rape.
- Do not slap you partner, even if he or she asks you to.
- Do not play rough-house with your children.
- Do not smash your fist into the wall.
- Do not throw the TV remote control.
- Do not admit to doing something wrong or apologize for prior actions, either verbally or in writing.
- If your partner has engaged in abusive behavior, promptly obtain a restraining order in advance of your partner taking such action. Once you get the restraining order, change all locks to keep your partner out.
- If you need to see your ex-partner (for example, to exchange your children), do so in a public location, preferably a place with video monitoring.
- If you need to drop off something at your ex-partner’s residence, go with a witness.
- Be sure to document any conversation or incident that could later become a focus of attention in a courtroom.
For many, dealing with a false allegation of domestic violence and its after-effects may be the most difficult challenge that they ever face in their lives. To get through the experience, you will need to obtain good legal advice and follow a series of common sense measures to fend off the accusation.
Lisa Scott: What to do before the restraining order comes. 2004.
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