Parental alienation is an unfortunate reality for many children of divorce. Children benefit from a healthy, positive image of both parents. When the view of one parent is unfairly tarnished, children can internalize those feelings, impacting their own self-image. Parents who are alienated from their children are fighting back in court, asking for more visitation time with their children with surprising results.
Defining Parental Alienation
It is natural for couples going through divorce to feel some degree of anger, hurt, and sadness about the separation. Parental alienation happens when one parent disparages the other in front of the children, sabotaging that parental bond and sometimes, even destroying it permanently. Parental alienation takes many forms; some are subtler than others. The interfering parent may talk badly about their ex-spouse, or tell children the other parent does not love them or want to see them. Some interfering parents go as far as to falsely accuse the other parent of physical or sexual abuse. Children exposed to parental alienation may side with the primary custody parent during disagreements, rebel against the non-custodial parent, accuse the alienated parent of behavior that never happened, or inexplicably pull away from that parent.
Parental Alienation and Child Custody
The American Psychological Association has yet to take a position on Parental Alienation Syndrome, a condition named by a family psychologist back in the 1980s. Shared-parenting advocacy groups, like the National Parents Organization, want that to change. They believe parental alienation is abuse with or without an official diagnosis. Yet without a diagnosis, family courts are left to navigate a grey area when deciding child custody matters involving parents accused of alienation.
Few statistics are available regarding child custody cases involving accusations of parental alienation. However, some data exists on cases where fathers accused of abuse had accused mothers of parental alienation. A recent study found that in 72 percent of separations, fathers accused of abuse won more visitation time with their children or full custody from mothers they accused of alienation. In cases wherein abuse was alleged, but alienation was not, fathers only won 16 percent of cases. Family law experts say judges, evaluators, and mediators need better training to spot the signs of emotional and physical abuse, including parental alienation. Only then can they make the best and most informed decisions for children of divorce.
Judges who find that parental alienation exists may change child custody plans to benefit alienated parents. Those changes may include granting compensatory parenting time, changing the primary residential parent, and financial penalties for the interfering parent, including court costs and attorney fees.
Towson Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Aggressively Fight Parental Alienation
Children benefit emotionally and physically from a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce. When one parent attempts to destroy a child’s bond with the other parent, children may suffer the effects of that loss well into adulthood. Towson child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC work tirelessly to advocate for victims of parental alienation and reclaim their child custody rights. To schedule your free consultation, call 443-589-0150, or submit an online inquiry. Our offices are located in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland to serve clients throughout the state.