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False Allegations of Child Abuse in a Child Custody Case | Voted “Best of the Valley”

Posted on : February 29, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Separation from Bed and Board

False Allegations of Child Abuse in a Child Custody Case

False Allegations of Child Abuse in a Child Custody Case.

False Allegations of Child Abuse in a Child Custody Case.

In cases of alleged sexual molestation of a child by a parent sharing parenting time and legal decision making, the Court must carefully weigh all testimony, consider expert opinion, and make accurate interpretations of the law in their efforts to provide for the safety and best interests of the child. In many situations, such as those seen in the unpublished Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the Flynn v. Brown case, false or misguided accusations of abuse can severely damage relationships that are in the child’s best interests to protect. Amanda C. Flynn (Mother) and Gregory Scott Brown (Father) were divorced 2011.

The dissolution decree awarded Mother sole legal custody and final decision-making authority. The father was granted supervised parenting time. Mother filed a petition to modify parenting time in 2013 claiming that the father molested their daughter. The family court judge awarded the mother sole legal decision-making authority and suspended the father’s parenting time on an emergency basis until the issue could be addressed in court. After the hearing, emergency temporary orders were affirmed, the child’s counseling was discontinued, and the trial was scheduled.

In the joint pretrial statement, the father requested joint legal decision-making authority. Mother objected. After a three-day trial, the trial court judge concluded that the father did not molest the parties’ daughter.  The mother saw a “hickey” on their daughter’s neck. When the child was asked what happened, she responded that her father had kissed her neck and the mother jumped to the conclusion the father had molested their daughter. From this point forward, the mother interpreted everything the child said as indicative of sexual behavior or a sign she had been molested. The family court judge found that the mother’s responses to the child held to shape the child’s statements.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Google User
Google User
14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
A Google User
16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
A Google User
A Google User
22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
A Google User
A Google User
18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
A Google User
A Google User
19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
A Google User
A Google User
17:44 23 Jun 16
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
Bassam Ziadeh
21:20 02 Apr 18
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13

Over time, the mother’s behavior also shaped the “child’s interpretation of events” as well as her “emotional responses” to them. The family court judge also found portions of the mother’s testimony regarding the father to be false. The record of the trial made it apparent to the trial court judge that the mother lacked “objectivity and perspective.” The family court judge denied the mother’s request for a modified order discontinuing the father’s parenting time. The trial court also found that the substantial change of circumstances presented by the case justified changing the mother’s sole legal decision making to joint legal decision making authority. The family court judge also found that in her misguided efforts to protect the daughter from the father, the father/daughter relationship had been damaged and was now at risk.

Court Ruling on Allegations of Child Abuse

Allegations of Child Abuse.

Allegations of Child Abuse.

The court concluded the mother’s insistence that she retain sole legal decision that the father’s parenting time should be discontinued stemmed from an unhealthy mistrust of the father, which was not in the child’s best interests. The family court judge also noted in its findings that the mother had overstated evidence in support of her allegations.  In some instances, even presenting testimony that was not truthful. It appeared to the Court that the mother convinced herself that the father was a danger to the child and, as a result, adopted an “end justifies the means” approach to the case and accompanying proceedings.

The mother argued that the trial court erred by ordering a modification because the father did not ask the trial court to modify the prior legal decision-making orders and she, therefore, did not have fair notice that issue would be addressed.  The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the Joint Pretrial Statement filed by both parties one week before the first day of trial and five weeks before the final day of trial to be an “amending [of] the pleading.” The mother’s objection to the statement serves as evidence that she was duly notified. Additionally, objections regarding procedure must be filed prior to completion of the case.

The mother also argued on appeal that the trial court erred in its finding of the existence of a changed circumstance since the prior child custody orders were entered, its ruling permitting the father to provide an alternative explanation for the mark on the child’s neck, the trial court’s finding that the father’s alternative explanation was “more consistent with evidence” than the alleged sexual molestation, and the trial court’s dependence on testimony occurring prior to the hearing.

The mother did not provide transcripts of the trial supporting her arguments to the Court of Appeals, nor did she provide any continued development of the arguments for the Court of Appeals of Arizona to consider. The burden of providing all necessary documentation regarding the case and in support of her arguments on appeal was the mother’s responsibility.  Absent such record being transmitted to the Court of Appeals, the Arizona Court of Appeals must assume that the exhibits and trial transcripts would support the trial court’s findings. In addition, based on the limited evidence that was presented on appeal, the mother’s arguments fail.  The Arizona Court of Appeals finds no error or abuse of discretion in the case of Flynn v. Brown and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Call us at (480)305-8300 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona child custody attorneys.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.



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