Men's Rights: We've talked about the evidence needed to disprove false allegations or to prove that you were abused, but how can you preemptively prevent these from happening?
Heather Biagi: It kind of depends on what parties you’re dealing with. If you’re dealing with parties who don’t get along that are going through a divorce, but they’ve never had a history of violence and neither one of them is overly aggressive — and by aggressive I mean aggressively wanting one party out of the house or not — then I don’t advise my clients to worry too much about a false protection order being filed.
But in cases where I know what the posturing is going to be, if it’s a case where there’s a lot at stake – such as money or mom has it in her head that dad should not have any time with the children - then I tell my client, "if she starts a fight with you then you walk away. If she tries to say anything to you then you walk away. Be careful what you text her, she’s going to text you something awful. Be careful what you write because writing is so powerful and there’s no context to it, no tone."
So while you might say something that’s a joke or something you’ve been saying for years, your wife could take it to the judge and say, "Here’s where he threatened to do this to me" when in fact that’s not really what happened.
Men's Rights: If you have successfully proven that the allegations of domestic violence against you are false, what do you get out of it? Is the alleging party punished or are you just happy the charges were dropped?
Heather Biagi: It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and is also very dependent on what judge you’re in front of, but there are a couple of things you can potentially get out of it such as your attorney's fees paid.
You can always request the judge to order your wife to pay your attorney's fees since she was the one who filed a frivolous action against you.
Probably the most beneficial thing that you can get out of it is ruining the other party's credibility. I tell my clients every time I speak with them that anytime you’re going to go to court do not embellish and do not shade it to your favor. Just tell the truth.
You don’t want to get stuck in a lie because when you lose credibility with the judge or you’ve proven that you are not an honest person in front of that judge, the judge will remember it and there is nothing an attorney — I don’t care how good they are — can do to rehabilitate their client once the client has lied to the judge.
As a mens divorce lawyer, I would consistently bring up a party’s previous lies at every hearing or motion filed.
I would say, "Judge, you remember when she filed the order of protection and it was unfounded? Do you remember when she made these allegations of abuse and they were completely unfounded? At what lengths will this person go to get what they want?"
So realistically, the benefit to you is the loss of her credibility and the ability to use that lie to your advantage in future hearings.
Losing the trust of the judge is the worst possible thing that could happen to a client.
Men's Rights: So credibility is everything?
Heather Biagi: Absolutely. Credibility is everything.
Watch the DadsDivorce Live interview with attorney Heather Biagi on domestic violence: