Kingston Whig Standard

Thursday, May 27, 1999

Fathers lie more, Queen's study says

The Kingston Whig Standard

A study suggests a third of unproven cases of child abuse stemming from custody battles involve someone deliberately lying in court.

Researchers at Queen's University law faculty are also suggesting that while mothers make allegations of child abuse more often than men during custody battles, fathers are more likely to fabricate the accusations than mothers are.

It's a thorny subject that has divided groups concerned with custody battles along gender lines.

A joint House and Senate committee, which travelled the country last year to hear suggestions on how to improve child and custody law, heard conflicting testimony on the subject.

Some fathers rights groups suggested to the committee that women often make false abuse allegations to deny ex-partners access to children. Women's groups disagreed.

More research is needed and the findings are preliminary, but they begin to dispel some of the myths and sweeping statements made about the validity of abuse allegations in custody battles, say researchers.

"Many of [the abuse allegations] are true, and many are false and the result of deliberate lies," said said Prof. Nick Bala, a family law expert who conducted the study.

"So the extreme positions on both sides are clearly wrong."

The study involved a review of judges' decisions in 200 cases between 1990 and 1998 where allegations of either physical or sexual abuse were taken to court. The majority - 72 per cent - involved allegations of sexual abuse.

The cases were all considered to involve a "high-conflict" custody and access battle.

In about a quarter of the cases, allegations of abuse were proven to be true.

Copyright The Kingston Whig-Standard1999