Parental Alienation and the Courts

What are a Child’s Rights and Responsibilities in a California Divorce?The courts agree on a very important aspect involved with raising children: maintaining healthy and strong relationships between both parents. However, what happens when one parent makes it impossible for those strong relationships to occur? This may be a standard case of parental alienation, where one parent targets the other by “programming” the child a certain way. By doing so, they essentially undermine the child’s relationship with the affected parent and, in many cases, “turn them against” the other parent. This brainwashing technique is not regarded well with the courts and may have a great effect on a parent’s custody matters.

You may be surprised to find that parental alienation is not uncommon. In fact, it has increased over the years to the point that researchers are now conducting studies to show that it is a type of abuse that causes a child to feel terror and isolation. Judicial findings show that parental alienation occurs in about 11-15% of divorces that involve children. About 1% of children in North America will experience this horrific phenomenon that sets families apart.

Signs and Steps to Take

A child may exhibit many signs that parental alienation is occurring in front of their very eyes. A parent, on the other hand, may not even realize that they are alienating their child and making them feel a certain way through their negative actions. For instance, a parent may not understand that simply “discussing” the details of the divorce with the child could be alienation. Imagine sitting in front of a child and explaining that their father is mentally abusive. It strikes terror in a young child’s heart and instantly turns them away from their loved one. An alienating parent motivates the child to think less of the other parent, and sometimes they do not understand this until it is too late.

In other cases, one parent may blame the other parent for financial problems or outright ask the child to choose one parent over the other. In some of the most severe cases, a parent will act hurt or sad that the child has a loving relationship with the other parent or tempt the child to avoid visitation at all costs. This type of alienation is not viewed well with the courts, understandably.

In any situation, the victim parent should stay calm and control their own behavior and temper, as well as allow the courts to handle the case. Keeping the child out of the court case itself is most important, as a child should be able to enjoy their life without thinking about their parent’s custody issues in the background. This is why the victim parent should never violate the court order and should continue to pay child support on time, as this is favorable with the courts.

The courts understand how to handle these cases. They also understand the risks of parental alienation and that these children have an increased risk of mental health and addiction problems. Because alienation is so negative and the impact can be crucial, the family court will sometimes order a change in custody if alienation is established. This could be as drastic as giving full custody to one parent or establishing a supervised visitation schedule. If you are in the midst of a child custody dispute, exhibiting a supportive attitude toward the relationship between the other parent and child will give you the best outcome. Give us a call today if you need help with your case. No parent and child should be affected by parental alienation.