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Family law litigants who lay false criminal accusations against an estranged spouse during divorce proceedings make a “mockery of our judicial system,” says Toronto family law lawyer Esther Daniel.
Daniel, who also practises criminal law, says it’s a growing trend for both men and women to use falsely-made criminal charges like assault or uttering threats as a “tactic to have the spouse removed from the home to obtain exclusive possession.” Or, allegations are made that could result in custody being denied to the accused spouse, and criminal matters can take years to be resolved.
“Of course this accusation can be valid and an accuser could have real concerns for their safety,” says Daniel. “If someone is truly being abused or threatened then they should call 911. But if not, I strongly urge people not to use this as a tool to get what they want.”
Daniel says those who make such false allegations against their spouses “insult those who are truly being abused.” And it tangles up the court system unnecessarily, costing the taxpayers needlessly. In addition, taking such action mounts the legal fees for the family at the end of the day.
“Paying a family lawyer to assist you is not as expensive as having to pay a criminal lawyer as well after you’ve been charged with threatening or assaulting your ex,” says Daniel. “The best way to avoid a night or more in jail is to avoid conflict and the escalation of conflict when things start to break down. Trust me, the watered-downed coffee and bread they serve at the courthouse is not worth it.”
Daniel warns: “Allegations of the criminal nature cannot be easily taken away and have a snowball effect once the process commences in the criminal justice system.”