There’s no question that domestic violence is a real problem, with real victims. Those victims deserve a great deal of empathy and assistance.

Unfortunately, false domestic violence allegations also happen. While not the norm, false allegations are sometimes a cynical and calculated move on the part of one spouse against the other during a divorce.

And, unfortunately, the tactic can be effective.

Because the law is designed to operate in order to protect the victims of actual domestic violence as quickly as possible, it takes very little effort for someone to go to court and request an emergency protection order against their spouse.

Did you have a yelling match with your spouse where you grabbed her hand to emphasize a point — even though you neither injured her nor intended to do so? Did you block the doorway for a moment trying to get your spouse to listen to you rather than allowing him to storm out in the heat of the moment? All of that can be exaggerated in court in a hearing in front of a judge — and you won’t be there to defend yourself during that emergency hearing.

Even worse: Your spouse could simply make up the whole thing. Take the case of Johnny Depp, whose career and reputation both took a nosedive after his ex-wife revealed that she was the victim of domestic violence. Now, he’s suing for defamation — and seems to have a considerable amount of proof that she was actually the aggressor and faked being the victim in order to gain sympathy and momentum in her career.

If you’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence during your divorce, it’s time to get smart: Get an experienced attorney on your side. A mistake now could damage your future for years to come.