APPENDIX A: ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE IN THE CONTEXT OF PARENTAL SEPARATION
[Self-identification by interviewer]
The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is currently conducting a project for the Department of Justice Canada on the problem of false allegations of child abuse made in the context of custody and access disputes. One
component of this project is key informant interviews to provide additional insights into the problem.
1. Are you willing to answer some questions about this topic? (This will take approximately 15 minutes. All information will be presented anonymously, and key informants will only be named in the acknowledgements of the report with
[If yes, continue -- If no, thank the respondent and end the call]
2. What is your profession?
Extent of the Problem
Unfortunately, the actual incidence of false allegations of child abuse in Canada is not known and would require primary research to determine. It is believed that the incidence is higher in situations of parental separation than in other
contexts, but this has not been verified.
3. Have you had direct experience with cases of false allegations of child abuse in custody and access disputes? If so, how much and what types of cases (e.g., physical, sexual, neglect)?
4. Obviously, there is a distinction between false allegations that are deliberately made to gain a tactical advantage in a custody or access dispute from those that are honest mistakes due to such things as: children's
statements being misinterpreted, poor communication between the parents, mental health problems of the person making the allegation, or children making false allegations. The Report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access
has recommended that "the federal government assess the adequacy of the Criminal Code in dealing with false statements in family law matters and develop policies to promote action on clear cases of mischief, obstruction of justice or
perjury." Have you had cases that could be classified as clear cases of mischief, obstruction of justice or perjury"? If so, how often does this occur?
5. Do you think that the incidence of intentionally false allegations
(or clear cases of mischief, obstruction of justice or perjury) is higher
in cases involving custody and access disputes than in other settings?
6. Do you think that the incidence of false allegations due to honest
mistakes is higher in cases involving custody and access disputes than
in other settings?
7. Do you think that the problem of false allegations has increased compared to ten years ago? What about intentionally false allegations?
8. In your experience, are intentionally false allegations of child
abuse being made repeatedly in the same case (i.e., with the same family)?
9. Who makes the intentionally false allegations in most cases (i.e.,
was the original allegation made by the mother, father, child)?
10. In your experience, are children being coerced or manipulated by custodial
parents to make accusations against non-custodial parents?
11. Do you think that the problem of intentionally false allegations of child
abuse requires a stronger legal remedy than that which is currently
available? Please explain.
12. Do you think that stronger legal sanctions against reporters of intentionally
false allegations would discourage legitimate reports of abuse?
[If key informant is a child welfare worker or police officer, continue asking
questions 13-18. If key informant is another profession, skip
to question 19 and continue]
[child welfare workers and police]
13. Does your organization have a protocol for responding to allegations
of child abuse in the context of custody and access disputes?
If so, may we have a copy?
[If yes, make arrangements -- fax or courier
14. In practice, are there cases with special circumstances where the
written protocol is not applicable? If so, what are they?
15. Does your organization provide specific training on the dynamics involved
with allegations of child abuse in situations of parental separation?
16. When an allegation of child abuse is made, how long do you have before
you must begin an investigation?
17. How long does an investigation typically last (in terms of elapsed time,
not actual investigative hours)?
18. Are statements that are taken from the reporter sworn statements?
19. In your experience, are access rights of non-custodial parents being denied during investigations? If so, on average, for how long might a non-custodial parent be denied access?
20. Are you aware of mechanisms in place in your jurisdiction for supervised
21. Do you think that the current mechanisms for supervised access are adequate?
If not, what mechanisms should be available?
22. Are they any other issues regarding this problem that you would like
Thank you very much for your time and input. May we acknowledge your
assistance in the report?
[If yes, get proper spelling of name, title and affiliation]
Would you like to receive a copy of this report when it is completed?
[If yes, get address, or give the Department of Justice contact]
For your information, the Department of Justice Canada contact for this project is:
Ms Tracy Perry
Tel: (613) 957-7093