Non-Offending Parents in Sex Abuse Cases


NewJerseyDYFSdefense.com received an inquiry regarding the Division’s hostility toward non-offending parents in sexual abuse cases. Allison C. Williams, Esq. responded to this inquiry, and since then, we have received very favorable responses to that Reply in Comments. For that reason, we have decided to republish that post here.

Counsel is involved in a matter involving alleged sexual abuse by the Father wherein the Mother believes in his innocence in a northern county. She represents the non-offending parent who firmly believes her husband’s innocence. The following suggestions are made for such circumstances:

1. The non-offending parent should compile a list of reasons why s/he believes his/her spouse. The reasons should focus upon the parent-child relationship with the non-offending spouse — not the spousal relationship. Focusing on the latter will likely draw complaint that the non-offending parent prioritizes the spouse over the child.

2. The psychological community acknowledges that a parent can disbelieve that abuse has occurred, and yet, still be supportive of the child who believes she has been abused. Cite to this research every time the matter is listed in court. Such information from Learned Treatises offers material and relevant evidence to the court for dispositional purposes.

3. Minimize the public appearance of support got the alleged offending parent by the non-offending parent. The image of wife supporting husband contradicts the position that wife supports his accuser (i.e.., the child) – no matter what the psychological community has to say about the two roles being compatible.

4. Obtain private therapy for the non-offending parent. Do NOT allow the Division access to this professional unless and until there is a finding, and only then, after the consequences of such finding have been addressed in court. Keep that safe space for the non-offending parent to express fear, concern, anxiety and yes, even doubt, without fear of jeopardizing the accused parent’s defense, the child’s sense of security or the marital relationship.

These tips are not intended to constitute legal advice. If you would like to discuss your matter further, please contact me at our office and schedule a consultation with Allison C. Williams, Esq.

Divided Loyalties NOT Allowed by DYFS


In DYFS v. E.R., the Appellate Division upheld a finding of neglect against a parent who violated a DYFS case plan by repeatedly exposing her daughter to the mother’s boyfriend’s unwanted sexual advances. In so holding, the Court held:

Defendant’s misconduct lies in her steadfast loyalty to her paramour while ignoring her legal responsibility to protect her daughter from his unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances.

In essence, the mother was found culpable for NOT believing her child’s allegations. But, would the result have been the same if the mother had failed to believe her daughter’s allegations against her husband, rather than her boyfriend? And what if the daughter had been prone to acting out whenever mom commenced a new relationship? Is this a case of DYFS imputing to the parent the knowledge of when abuse claims are substantiated and should be believed? And what of those cases where DYFS substantiates abuse, then later changes the finding? If DYFS can change its mind, why cannot the parent?

The answer lies in the intricacies of each case. By and large, DYFS and the Superior Court have little to no tolerance for parents who place their individual need for a partner above their child’s need to live in an environment free from physical and emotional harm. Parents, disbelieve at your own peril…