Dec 09 Child Custody GAL - Advice on How to Handle False Allegations of Drug, Alcohol Abuse, Child Neglect
Most any parent in a high conflict child custody battle will likely have felt the sting of false allegations at some point. These types of allegations are deeply disturbing and hurtful not to mention the harm they can do to your custody visitation schedule. In some states a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is used as an advocate for the child when allegations have been made against a parent. The GAL’s responsibility is to investigate the allegations and make a recommendation to the court.
I recently had a request from a father to help him sort through the process of dealing with false allegations being investigated by a GAL. Those allegations were, drug abuse, child neglect, and alcohol abuse. Here is the advice I gave him.
You have three excellent things going in your favor.
1: You don’t do drugs.
2: Your ex has repeatedly requested you take the child in the past.
3: Alcohol is legal (and you only drink lightly and occasionally).
Temporary visitation schedules have a way of becoming permanent. I would build my strategy around removing that temporary visitation barrier.
First thing that you can do is ask the GAL f they have come across any information that they would like to ask you about or that they need clarification on. What you are looking for is dialogue that plays to the known allegations or new allegations. You do NOT want to be blindsided later on.
Let’s assume they ask you about drug abuse. Even if they don’t you should bring it up. You can tell them that you are not a drug user, never have been and that this is a tactic by the mother. I would go so far as to flip false the allegations to be concerned for my child. I would suggest they are just like me and if she cannot cope with me, then how will she react to them as they get older? A legitimate concern.
The reason I bring that up is that allegations of abuse, drugs, alcohol, etc are taken seriously by the authorities. And rightly so. Appreciate their point of view. They aren’t trying to be mean to you. They just want to protect the parties from injury. As concerned as they are about getting to the truth, you can flip that and use that concern to your advantage.
You see the point is that you can prove you don’t use drugs, using alcohol is a bit different but then it’s legal, BUT the you have proof she has made allegations. If she uses a tactic to pretend she is concerned about something she knows to be false, then what other lengths will she go to? She has already tried to damage the relationship between you and the child by making false allegations. Now YOU have the legitimate concern that she has handed you. In many states false allegations can result in losing custody.
I went a bit in depth because I want you to get your head around it. You will not likely get to explain it to the GAL, but if you understand the point you want to make and why, I think you’ll be in good shape.
Now you should understand that if you go in and say, “I’m concerned about the temporary visitation schedule and I’m willing to help in any way I can. I would be happy to drug test for you today if that would help. “I’m concerned that if she is angry enough to falsely accuse me of using drugs instead of finding a way to cope with me, then I don’t know how she would handle the child when they do things that remind her of me.” the GAL should then make the connection from her allegations and to her.
You see if you go with concern for your child, leave no stone unturned, I want to help, I’m not angry, I’m just concerned about our child. That attitude alone should benefit you.
Now let’s do the list.
#1 Suggest that the GAL present the mother with the idea of court ordered random drug testing twice per month at her expense (unless of course it’s positive). Make sure they tell her that she will be required to pay that expense until the child is 18. Suggest that the mothers reaction will tell them everything they need to know.
#2 Take email, text messages, anything that shows she has asked you to take the child for additional time. (If this is part of a court process you may need to give copies of documentation to her before seeing the GAL - You can always add other stuff to her pack so that she can wonder what you’re going to do with it?). The point here is that if she was really concerned about child neglect, drug use, drinking, these would have been issues years ago and she would not have asked you to spend more time with your child. The things she has accused you of did not pop up overnight. They are long term issues that she would have been well aware of. Also, question why she didn’t call child protective services years ago? Was she really concerned?
#3 I assume you don’t have any DUI’s. That being said, offer to not drink when you have the child. Period. No matter how much you love a beer or two, figure out what’s important to you. I’m guessing time with your child.
What you should have done by this time is convince the GAL that they need to talk to mom and confront her to see her reaction. She will not want to pay $100/month for a test she knows will be negative. Why do that when she can do nothing and leave doubt?
Finally, ask that you be given back the time you lost due to the investigation so that you can rebuild the bonds with your child.
Do you want to learn more about child custody resolution? Receive my brand new series Child Custody Court Processes.
Do you want to learn more about how to win child visitation battles? Download my brand new free series Child Visitation strategies here.
Ed Brooks knows firsthand how painful a High Conflict Child Custody battle can be and has created a site where parents can get advice on how to handle all aspects of a high conflict Child Custody battle.