In other circumstances, a stranger, someone you know, or perhaps your child’s teacher could become concerned about an injury to your child or something your child says – and refers Child Youth and Family to you. The tragic fact is that this does happen to people who are totally innocent of any crime. Sadly, although in this country you are ‘innocent until proven guilty’, the truth is that sometimes people can get charged and found guilty for domestic violence on very little evidence.
What Can Happen
You can be arrested while in your own home, in front of your partner and children, and in full view of the neighbours. Then you can be taken to the police station, your DNA taken and held on file, and interviewed while under caution. You could find yourself in court, charged with an offence for which you have done nothing wrong. Worst of all, you could end up with a criminal conviction and sent to prison. The problem is, when emotions are running high after a break up or divorce, one call to the police can have far-reaching consequences. If word gets around your local community, you could suffer verbal abuse, harassment or worse for being a ‘monster’.
If this happens to you, you need to be aware of your rights. You are entitled to legal advice at the police station. If you waive your right, you may end up saying something that could be misconstrued, especially if you are tired or are lulled into a false sense of security by the interviewing officers. There have been many cases that have been successfully brought to Court purely on the basis of an admission in interview at the police station.
If you do speak to a lawyer, tell them the truth because if you are coy, or uncooperative, they are not going to be able to advise you properly. The police may bail you to return to the police station on another date. If they do this, you MUST ensure you go back on the day and at the time specified, or you will be charged with an offence of ‘failure to surrender’ and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. If you are innocent of any crime, be persistent, stick to the truth and try your best not to get angry at any stage. If you find yourself in court, it is vital that you come across as genuine and sincere about your innocence.
Implications For Your Accuser
If your partner or ex-partner accuses you of domestic violence, when you have in fact done nothing wrong, by the time the police are involved your ex has already committed a criminal offence for which they could receive a prison sentence of up to six months. If they then go on to falsify evidence to the authorities – the police, Child Youth and Family etc – they are then perverting the course of justice. If the case actually gets to court, and you find yourself in the dock on trial for something you haven’t done, your accuser would in most circumstances have to give evidence in court. If they are still lying at this stage, they are committing perjury. These are all serious criminal offences for which your ex-partner could serve a long prison sentence.
Brendon Smith, of Father and Child, said most young fathers wanted to be involved in their children’s lives but did not get the same State support as young mums.
“Young dads need to be included and welcomed into parenting groups and antenatal classes. Midwives need to include the dads in appointments.
“Becoming a father can be the motivation they need to clean up their lives and this can happen if they get the right support,” he said.
“We work it out. Communications is the key,” he said. “We just have to be transparent with each other and it’s all about the children at the end of the day.”
For more information on Father and Child’s support and resources for teen dads, see Teen dad support …
The Truth About Lies
Statistically, more than 75% of the accusations that are made during a divorce are untrue. They arise for several reasons:
To cause trouble for the other person or an act of pure revenge
To discredit the other person, so that they are closer to ‘winning’
A combination of the two, to show how much they are ‘in charge’
Types of Lies
Lies about drug abuse are common when relationships break down. This doesn’t necessarily mean illegal drugs, but also alcohol abuse “she always drank too much, she was embarrassing in public” to “he was addicted to painkillers, without them he became a nightmare”. Another common type of lie is about illegal behaviour. Whether its tax fraud, animal cruelty, benefits fraud, or flouting planning permission requirements – you might find yourself faced with a whole load of awful allegations that are completely untrue.
These allegations are usually a ploy to get you investigated by one or more public or legal authorities. It may be a real nuisance to have to deal with, but in the event that this does happen lies told by an ex-partner are usually very quickly exposed.
Perhaps the most common allegation is of promiscuous behaviour during the relationship. This could range from alleging internet pornography use, a string of affairs with unknown others, or an affair with someone you both knew. A high-profile example of this was when Katie Price accused Peter Andre of having an affair with his agent, and had to pay a substantial sum in damages after he brought a claim for libel in the High Court. Sometimes these allegations can be extreme, such as accusations that you took part in commercially available pornographic films or internet clips. With developments in technology, it’s very easy to see how cropped photographs and forged documents can end up being used to back up these types of lies.
If You Are Accused of a Crime
If you find yourself Falsely Accused Of A Criminal Offence, it’s very important that you know your rights. It is always illegal to falsely accuse someone of a crime, and you should not rest until you have cleared your name. Your accuser may be wasting police time, Perverting the Course of Justice or Committing Perjury – if your case ends up in court. Hopefully, none of this will ever happen to you but if it does, tell your lawyer the truth and be calm but persistent about what you know to be the correct version of events.
Many couples experience poor communication before separation takes place. In some cases, communication can become almost non-existent, which creates further problems regarding custodial and property issues and agreeing effective solutions. There are, however, simple ways to improve communication and to establish shared responsibility and decision-making:
There is little point talking about bad habits, challenging behaviour and other issues that may relate to anger or frustration.
To encourage good communication it is important to listen actively and to consider the other person’s needs.
Collecting your thoughts before responding allows you to consider the best way of communicating your message, and will ensure that you do not intimate or provoke a negative response.
Learn to Appreciate
Appreciating the care and attention your ex-partner consistently shows your child/children creates a positive impression that encourages reciprocation. This in turn improves interaction and communication and encourages the development and growth of harmonious relationships.
Being tolerant of each other, regardless of previous challenges and difficulties, also enables you both to move forward in creating a more rewarding form of communication that benefits everyone
What Not to Do
As a responsible adult, it is important that you act like one whenever you are speaking to your child’s mother.
Threatening or intimating behaviour and communication – whether by telephone, email, or text – should not be used or tolerated.
Using your child/children to deliver messages or to provide you with information is also not recommended.
Making good communication a priority will ensure you pay careful attention to behaviour or questioning that may provoke a negative response. Ensuring you are attentive, supportive and willing to create positive changes will also help you maintain a positive outlook.
If All Else Fails
Couple counselling is not exclusively available to cohabiting individuals. In times of great stress, emotional difficulties and poor communication, counselling may provide you with the best solution to improving relations with an ex-partner or spouse. Using Mediation can also help couples overcome communication problems so that they are able to work together at maintaining an improved level of communication, acceptance and understanding of each other and shared circumstances.
Father and Child trust produced one of NZ’s only surveys of Solo Dads last year… Solo Dads Survey
Paula Bennet launched the White paper for vulnerable children, including a VIK informaton system and Childprotect phone line…it replicates what we do in the Vulnerable Infant Network, hopefully they do it better than cyfs have so far…
We met and connected with a few great organisations, one is in Whangarei and has the teen dads group, one is in Ngaruawahia and supports dads… there is a great parenting centre in Thames, a great dads/mens group running out of Masterton and we connected with the Every Child Counts group…
We distributed quite a few Why Dads booklets, and a few brochures to those who asked for them, many more are left in Wellington with Quentin…
Quentin welcomed me and he ran a workshop on great fathers, hooked me in to help, Elaine Dyer was there and keen to support us joining Jigsaw.
Jigsaw has a presence of some sort in most cities around NZ, hopefully we help in their understand of the benefits, resources we use and inclusion of dads, either way, I think Jigsaw is a great group, and we should become a full member…!