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Handling Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes: Strategies and Tools to Figure Out What Really Happened

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will offer guidance to attorneys who must handle child sexual abuse (CSA) allegations in child custody matters. The panelist will discuss how an ABA judicial training model suggests approaching these matters. This speaker will offer tools and resources for investigating CSA allegations and presenting those findings to the court so that the court has an accurate interpretation of the facts.


The court's charge in every custody case is the Best Interests of the Child (BIC). If allegations of child sexual abuse (CSA) are present, the truth must be uncovered. But investigating and adjudicating CSA allegations perplexes even the most experienced attorneys, judges, and mental health professionals.

The biggest mistake commonly made by all the parties is to jump to conclusions. Rule No. 1 is "What you think you see is not always what it is." Both victims and offenders do things that are counterintuitive, sometimes subconsciously and sometimes intentionally to mislead. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges cautions judges to be alert for unalleged CSA because of the many different reasons the parties may have for keeping silent.

Rule No. 2 is "There is no exact way to determine every aspect of what we need to know." Valid reports of abuse often have "paradoxical" qualities. Legal professionals, police, CPS investigators, mental health professionals, and courts do not always follow best practices or even their own policies, guidelines, and/or regulations. Thus, it is not always possible to rely upon the opinions, observations, and "facts" established by others.

Finally, attorneys must be armed with the law and procedure to ensure the judge sees what is before them in the same light so there can be no other answer than what is in the BIC in the case.

Listen as our exceptional and experienced panelist discusses handling CSA allegations in child custody matters and how an ABA judicial training model suggests they be approached.



  1. Myths and misconceptions
  2. Reasons why reports are made before, during, and after litigation begins
  3. How to avoid falling into preconceived or biased perceptions of events
  4. Where to go when perplexed by confounding facts


Our panelist will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the most common errors the parties make?
  • Are there any red flags to watch for?
  • What resources are available to guide an investigation?


Goldstein, Seth L.
Seth L. Goldstein

Law Offices of Seth L. Goldstein

Mr. Goldstein created a resource and referral program dedicated to helping litigants in child abuse cases. He...  |  Read More

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