What is Parental Alienation?
Posted By Law Offices of Robert Stepniak
During a contested divorce, the relationship that a shared child maintains with one parent may flourish, while the relationship with the other parent may suffer. In some cases, this may be the result of parental alienation.
Divorce, especially divorce with children, is extremely challenging. For many parents, divorce is not civil; instead, it is highly contested, filled with harsh words and angry sentiments, and extremely divisive. For these parents, the risk of parental alienation may exist. At The Law Offices of Robert Stepniak, our attorney can help you to understand parental alienation and how it may affect your child custody case.
What is Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Parental alienation is essentially the phenomenon of one parent, whether intentionally or unintentionally, turning the child against the other parent. More complex is parental alienation syndrome, a term coined in the 1980s that refers to one parent actively attempting to undermine the relationship that the shared child maintains with the other parent. According to The Florida Bar, criteria that can be used to establish parental alienation in a family law case include:
- One parent blocking the other’s access to and contact with the child;
- Unfounded abuse allegations made against the other parent;
- Deterioration of the relationship between the child and the other parent post-separation; and
- Intense fear reaction by the child when disobeying a directive made by the alienating parent.
In some cases, parental alienation can occur unintentionally. For example, a parent may complain about the other parent, or may badmouth the other parent in front of the child, which could have a negative effect on the child’s relationship with the other parent. In more severe cases, the parent who is engaging in alienating behaviors may actually make up stories or claims about the other parent, such as claims of abuse that are unfounded. Parental alienation can be very psychologically damaging for a child.
How Parental Alienation Can Affect a Child Custody Case in FL
If you believe that the other parent is engaging in parental alienation, it is important that you document this as thoroughly as possible and consult with an attorney. While parental alienation will not result in any criminal charges. Proof of parental alienation could have an outcome on a time-sharing agreement or a modification of child custody order. This is because the court considers each parent’s willingness and ability to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent; if a parent is not willing to do this, the court may not find that they are the best primary caregiver for the child.
Call The Law Offices of Robert Stepniak Today
If you have questions about parental alienation or suspect that your (ex-)spouse is engaging in parental alienation and it is affecting your relationship with your child, you need a skilled family law attorney on your side who can advocate for you and protect your rights. Attorney Robert Stepniak can help. Call The Law Offices of Robert Stepniak today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights, options, and the child custody process.