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Divorce may be difficult in any situation. When children are involved, however, the situation can rapidly turn tense, leading to lengthy legal fights about who gets which type of custody, how much custody, and other issues.
In the end, the courts will rule in the best interests of the kid in these contentious cases. This might rekindle or reignite anger between couples, prompting one or the other to look for ways to “get back” at the other. In the worst-case scenario, this might include weakening a child’s bond with the other parent, a process known as parental alienation.
What Is Parental Alienation and How Does It Happen?
On its own, child custody is a challenging matter, but when parental alienation is suspected, it becomes even more complicated. This is when one parent claims that the other is intentionally causing the child to reject them.
The most prevalent cause of parental alienation is when one parent speaks negatively about the other in front of the child. If it sounds sleazy, that’s because it usually is. Most people who do it do so in order to damage their spouse by jeopardizing their bond with their child.
Examples of statements that constitute parental alienation are:
A child may be successfully influenced into erroneously believing the other parent does not love them, is a bad person, or has another such impression after hearing enough statements like this. While these ideas are hurtful to a child when they are inaccurate, some in the psychiatric community have coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) to describe seemingly unreasonable anxiety or hatred toward a parent.
That said, PAS was rejected for inclusion in the DSM-5, a document published by the American Psychiatric Association that includes recognized mental illnesses and disorders. This isn’t to say that PAS hasn’t been used in child custody cases, but the scientific community isn’t convinced of its efficacy.
What Does the Law Say About Parental Alienation?
Despite the fact that PAS may be junk science, the courts recognize parental alienation as a legitimate concern and have devised many solutions to address it. When a parent accuses their child of alienation, the court must decide how the child became alienated and how the afflicted parent’s relationship with their child can be repaired.
In mild to moderate cases of parental alienation, courts may impose therapy. The estranged parent and the child may participate in therapy together, or the alienating parent may intervene on their own. A child custody evaluation is also expected, with possible timeshare adjustments to help the alienated parent and the child strengthen their bond.
If the alienation is exceptionally severe or flagrant, the courts may take the kid from the alienating parent’s care. A judge is more likely to order a psychological evaluation of the alienating parent first, which can take up to a year to complete.
When Should I Consult a Lawyer?
Whether you suspect your spouse is isolating your children from you or your husband accuses you of doing so, you should seek legal advice right once. You may be jeopardizing not only your children’s custody, but also your peaceful relationship with them, if you wait to take legal action.
If you have concerns regarding your ex-actions spouse’s in relation to what they’re teaching your children about you, contact Spodek Law Group for assistance. Call our office or send us an email today!
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