Parental alienation is one of the more common problems in child custody law. Alienation occurs when one parent takes actions or makes comments in the presence of the child that degrade the kid's affection for the other parent. This can happen inadvertently or deliberately.
You might wish to learn what your legal options are for combating parental alienation. Here is what you should know about handling the situation.
Understanding What Alienation Is Legally
Alienation involves driving a wedge between the child and one of the biological parents. For the sake of presenting a simple example, consider the extreme case of a father falsely and knowingly telling his daughter that her biological mother is a drug addict. This is alienating because the child is likely to develop a worse opinion of her mother. Especially if the kid is young and unable to fully process the complexities of adult conflict, the child may trust her father and assume her mother is somehow a bad human being.
Notably, many alienating acts are more subtle than in the previous example. Former partners do complain about each other. While they should go to great lengths to avoid grumbling in front of the child, virtually everyone slips up at some point. This makes it hard to feel confident that the behavior has crossed some legal line.
It always helps to document negative conduct in child custody law. If you're sensing that the other parent is fostering alienation, make written notes. Small notes with dates and rough outlines of the evidence are sufficient in most cases. A child custody attorney will usually focus less on the specific remarks and more on the fact pattern.
Suppose your kid comes home from custodial visits with the other parent and relays negative opinions about you, you should note that. You shouldn't press the child for explanations, but you can note if the kid indicates that the other parent expressed the opinion.
You can petition the court to evaluate the situation. The court always believes that both parents should protect the best interests of the child. Alienation from one parent is not in a kid's best interests.
The court will schedule a conference to assess the situation. If the court finds that alienating behavior is occurring, a judge may issue an order. Potential remedies include parental education, mental health counseling, and modifying the child custody agreement to limit the child's exposure to alienating attitudes. In cases of outrageous and repeated misconduct, the court may impose supervised visitation until the behavior stops or even terminate custody.
For more information, contact a local child custody attorney.