Emotions can run hot in a child custody dispute, but some lines should never be crossed. One such line is parental alienation, a toxic phenomenon in which one parent intentionally seeks to poison the relationship between the child and the other parent. Examples of parental alienation include:
- Convincing a child that the other parent caused the divorce
- Lying to the child about the other parent
- Persuading the child to skip out on the other parent’s parenting time time or even just giving the child the choice to miss out on seeing the other parent
- Blocking the other parent from receiving school schedules, medical records and other information regarding the child
Parental alienation is bad for the alienated parent and even worse for the child. According to Psychiatric Times, children who are alienated from a parent face increased risks of problems ranging from depression to substance abuse.
The alienated parent often feels helpless when caught up in such a toxic situation. Parents must tread carefully, as a wrong decision could only worsen their plight. Alienated parents can take comfort, however, that the law is on their side.
The law is clear
In child custody matters, the overriding concern is protecting the best interests of the child. Family courts in New Jersey and throughout the United States favor arrangements in which both parents have a meaningful relationship with the child. Parental alienation is never in the best interests of the child. It is a destructive force that can create permanent and harmful rifts between parent and child.
If you are engaged in a custody dispute and suspect your child’s other parent may be crossing the line into parental alienation, discuss the situation with an experienced child custody attorney. It is not only your parental rights that are at stake. Your child’s emotional well-being could face lasting damage.