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Ask Olivia Kent Your Own Question
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 871
Experience:  Partner at Kent Law Group, LLC
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I am in a custody and child support battle with my son's mother.

Customer Question

I am in a custody and child support battle with my son's mother. This question is related to an issue "outside of", but connected to the case. The Dept. of social Services came to my home and interviewed me regarding my son. They were following up on a report filed on me in March, 2016 claiming that I frequently get drunk, then verbally and physically abuse my 14 year-old son. Nothing is further from the truth. Part of the report claimed that I "drink beer after beer after beer, then begin verbally and physically abusing my son. Obviously, the person who made this report is not aware that I am allergic to beer and cannot drink it; have not had one since 1988. After the Social Services worker getting an "ear full" she realized that the claim was false and mentioned that the case would be closed. Question: If I find out who made this report can I sue for Slander or Defamation of character? The social worker said that they are not at liberty to reveal the person that made the claim. Can that information be subpoenaed by a court? Thank You
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 9 months ago.
Hello. My name is ***** ***** I and attorney. I'll be happy to help you. You can absolutely sue for defamation – libel or slander – for the comments made about you because you can clearly make out a claim for damages. You can try to subpoena that information but I think you'll find you have a tough time getting it, just for public policy reasons. DHS has to be able to receive and freely investigate such claims because they are in the interests of children. If you can find out was so you can certainly make out a claim pretty easily. I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or need me to clarify anything. I would be happy to do so. Please note that if I don't respond immediately to any follow-up questions it's because I am either not online or I am helping another customer but I can assure you I will be back if you have additional questions.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Are you saying that the court will not be able to subpoena those records to find out who filed that report? I don't know who it was but would bet my last dollar he/she has a direct connection to my son's mother. I do understand the system being interested in protecting the children. However, it is ashamed that the same system makes it too easy for someone to file completely false claims without a shred of evidence; don't even have to witness anything; just "saying" it is all that is required. If I am interested in filing a case against the accuser, how would I move forward?

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 9 months ago.

I agree with you that it is too easy for someone to file false claims. If you were interested in filing a case against the accuser you would need to in theory first sue DHS and in discovery request that information and then add the person as a defendant if you ever find out a name.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Would I sue the Dept. of Social Services (the agency) for the sole purpose of obtaining the name of the accuser? Don't most government agencies have some sort of protection whereby they cannot be sued? After all, it's not their fault someone filed a false claim. Is it not their job to follow-up on ALL reports filed? They have no way of knowing claims are false until investigating, right?

Another issue I forgot to mention is that I found out in court last Monday morning that my son has been seeing a psychiatrist, I think from the same agency since October, 2015 every other weekend when he is with his mother. This is another false claim of "child abuse" I knew nothing about until last week. Is there not some duty they (the agency) have to "investigate" or at least contact the alleged abuser of the child? This psychiatrist admitted that he never has made any attempt to contact me in the past seven months while he is "treating" (I use this term very loosely) my son, all the while my son is in my custody 50% of the time. Does it make any sense that if the claim is valid they would knowingly allow the child to be with the alleged abuser (UNSUPERVISED) half of the time?

No doubt, it looks like they're just trying to pull a "fast one."

Thank You,

Dennis

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 9 months ago.

Would I sue the Dept. of Social Services (the agency) for the sole purpose of obtaining the name of the accuser? Yes.

Don't most government agencies have some sort of protection whereby they cannot be sued? Absolutely.

Is it not their job to follow-up on ALL reports filed? Yes.

They have no way of knowing claims are false until investigating, right? Yes.

And that's exactly the problem with suing them - it is not their fault that someone filed a false claim. They don't know it's false until they investigate. Your suit would be solely for the purposes of gaining the information you need - to sue that party - but likely it will be dismissed before it ever got to the discovery phase, for the reasons above. I understand that it's frustrating - and you need to decide if it's worth the continued frustration and expense.

Is there not some duty they (the agency) have to "investigate" or at least contact the alleged abuser of the child? They do have an obligation to investigate and, if they feel it is appropriate, they reach out to the alleged abuser. If they didn't reach out to you likely they didn't feel it was credible. Or perhaps there is another reason. If at any point it becomes an issue you would subpoena the psychiatrist to get the information you need. Similarly, if there is an active family court action, you can subpoena the records of DHS to *try* to find out who reported alleged abuses.

Does it make any sense that if the claim is valid they would knowingly allow the child to be with the alleged abuser (UNSUPERVISED) half of the time? No it does not, and I hope that tells you what they *likely* believe of the allegations of abuse.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions or you need me to clarify anything. I'd be happy to do so.

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 9 months ago.

Hello again. I wanted to check in with you to see if you have any questions, and to see how everything is going with you.

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 8 months ago.

Hello. I noticed you have not yet submitted a rating and therefore it remains "Open" on my end. I was wondering if you need any additional information or need me to clarify anything first. I’d be happy to do so.

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