In Family Law, child custody matters can be the most difficult emotionally, and unfortunately, some parents will go to great lengths to cut the other parent out of the child’s life.
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times ( part 1 is here, and part 2 is here) describes the story of Louis Gonzalez III of Nevada, who shared custody of a son with his ex-girlfriend Tracy West. Mr. Gonzalez was accused of violently and brutally assaulting Ms. West prior to one of the custody exchanges, and was put in jail. While at first all the evidence seemed to indicate he was the attacker, doubts grew and he was eventually completely exonerated of involvement, but not after he spent considerable time in jail and away from his family and son.
The twist in the story is that Ms. West may have fabricated the whole situation, just to leverage the custody case. Unfortunately for her, she lost primary custody of her son, and Mr. Gonzalez ended up with custody of the boy. A happy ending for the father, but a possible complete backfire for mother going to extremes to separate a parent and child.
A lot of people know that domestic violence, even when not directed at the children involved, can affect and limit custody and visitation with minor children in a divorce or paternity case. And while there are a lot of valid domestic violence claims, there are also people willing to make false or misleading accusations to try and get an upper hand in a custody dispute. It can create a drawn out and messy dispute, that does little to advance the best interest of the children.
And the lesson to learn from Louis Gonzalez case is for a parent who is falsely accused to not give up hope, that with patience and time the truth can come to light and they can be exonerated, and for a parent who would make a false accusation, a warning that you may end up in the exact position you want to put the other parent in.