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Societal Cost of False Allegations

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One of the most important consequences of an allegation of domestic violence is the termination of the intimate partner relationship and award of child custody to the accusing parent. So how many children are affected by a false allegation of partner abuse, and what is the financial impact on society? These calculations answer that question: 1. Each year more than one million American children experience the divorce of their parents.8 2. About one-fourth of divorces involve an allegation of intimate partner violence.9 3. In about 70% of cases, the allegation is deemed to be unnecessary or false.10,11 4. Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence.* 5. In all but two states, divorce judges are required to consider allegations or findings of intimate partner violence in the award of child custody.12 Many of these children grow up in single-parent households with little or no contact with the other parent, placing them at far higher risk of poverty, child abuse, and a broad range of social pathologies.13 6. The annual taxpayer costs for federal poverty programs arising from family fragmentation and fatherlessness are conservatively estimated at $100 billion14 to $112 billion.15 7. By conservative estimates, the U.S. taxpayer pays $20 billion† annually to support single-parent families that have been harmed by a false allegation of domestic violence. It should be noted that the $20 billion is based on conservative assumptions. For example, many children have parents who never marry. There is no data available on the rate of allegations of domestic violence or the percentage of false allegations among such couples. This analysis does not account for the additional societal costs arising from such cases.
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    SPECIAL REPORT What is the Cost of False Allegations of Domestic Violence? P.O.   Box   1221   Rockville,   MD   20849   www.saveservices.org   Copyright   ©   August   2010,   Stop   Abusive   and   Violent   Environments.   Information   contained   in   previous   versions   of    this   report   may   be   outdated.  SAVE: S TOP A BUSIVE AND V IOLENT E  NVIRONMENTS Consider this scenario: You and your spouse are having marital problems and one night you get into an argument. Your spouse gets angry and calls the police. The police arrive with a restraining order. You are forced you to vacate the house and refrain from any contact with your partner for two weeks. You feel devastated, since there had been no physical violence. At the hearing, the judge asks, “Can you prove that your spouse was not fearful during the argument?” How would you demonstrate your innocence? As this example illustrates, a false claim can be difficult, if not impossible to refute. It stigmatizes and humiliates the person, and may require the expenditure of substantial sums of money to clear his or her good name. The accused may lose a security clearance and employment. Found innocent of the charges, a record of the incident may still remain on the books, harming reputation and career. False claims also harm the true victims of violence:  Judge Rucker Smith of Georgia was assaulted by his ex-girlfriend. Even though she had instigated the incident and he did not retaliate, he was charged with battery. A jury later acquitted Smith of all charges. The judge subsequently opined, “For someone to falsely accuse anot her out of anger and vengeance silences the voices of the many real victims.” 1   False allegations are seen under both civil and criminal law. Under civil law, 2–3 million restraining orders for partner abuse are issued each year, of which the majority are false, trivial, or unnecessary. 2  Under criminal law, about one million persons are arrested each year for intimate partner violence. 3  But only 33% of such arrests result in a conviction, 4  revealing that hundreds of thousands of persons are wrongfully incarcerated each year. Persons who make baseless accusations are seldom subject to legal sanctions. Casey Gwinn, a San Diego prosecutor and national authority on domestic violence, admits, “If we prosecuted everybody for  perjury that gets on a witness stand and changes their story, everybody would go to jail.” 5  The SAVE report, “Incentives to Make False Allegations of Domestic Violence,” documents how temporary restraining orders, usually issued without evidence of violence, become the primary vehicle for the transfer of monetary and other assets. 6  A second SAVE report, “How False Allegations Harm Families and Children,” documents how a nexus of broad legal definitions, financial incentives, and child custody practices trigger a cascade of events resulting in the separation of the parties and eventual divorce. 7  This Special Report estimates the societal and other costs resulting from false accusations of domestic violence. 1  C OST OF F ALSE A LLEGATIONS Societal Cost of False Allegations One of the most important consequences of an allegation of domestic violence is the termination of the intimate partner relationship and award of child custody to the accusing parent. So how many children are affected by a false allegation of partner abuse, and what is the financial impact on society? These calculations answer that question: 1.   Each year mor e than one million American children experience the divorce of their parents. 8  2.   About one-fourth of divorces involve an allegation of intimate partner violence. 9  3.   In about 70% of cases, the allegation is deemed to be unnecessary or false. 10,11  4.   Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence. *  5.   In all but two states, divorce judges are required to consider allegations or findings of intimate partner violence in the award of child custody. 12  Many of these children grow up in single-parent households with little or no contact with the other parent, placing them at far  higher risk of poverty, child abuse, and a broad range of social pathologies. 13  6.   The annual taxpayer costs for federal poverty programs arising from family fragmentation and fatherlessness are conservatively estimated at $100 billion 14  to $112 billion. 15  7.   By conservative estimates, the U.S. taxpayer pays $20 billion †  annually to support single-parent families that have been harmed by a false allegation of domestic violence. It should be noted that the $20 billion is based on conservative assumptions. For example, many children have parents who never marry. There is no data available on the rate of allegations of domestic violence or the percentage of false allegations among such couples. This analysis does not account for the additional societal costs arising from such cases. *  1,000,000 children x 0.25 DV allegation rate x 0.70 rate of false allegations = 175,000 children. It is recognized that allegations of domestic violence may be more common in divorces involving children. However, no data is available on this point. Therefore we make the assumption that the rate of false allegations is the same in divorces with and without children. †  $112 billion x 0.25 DV allegation rate x 0.70 false allegation rate = $19.6 billion. 2

Remo v Secretary

Jul 23, 2017
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