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Parental alienation in custody cases

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Child Custody |

Divorces between Pennsylvania couples are particularly difficult when young children are involved. When divorcing parents have a lot of conflict, unhealthy behaviors can develop that lead to parental alienation.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is the concept of one parent in a divorce becoming alienated from their child for no justifiable reason. Even when a parent has had no history of abuse or neglect, they are suddenly hated and rejected by their child during or after a divorce. Parental alienation is usually caused by the other parent’s influence over the child.

What causes parental alienation?

Parental alienation could be caused by direct instructions from the alienating parent or by a strong influence from the alienating parent. The alienating parent may put a lot of pressure on the child to share their negative feelings about the other parent. In many cases, the alienating parent doesn’t directly tell their child to hate the other parent, but they speak negatively about them so frequently that it causes parental alienation.

What are the signs of parental alienation?

Parental alienation can range from mild to severe. In the mild phase, the child might object to spending time with the alienated parent but still enjoy the alienated parent once they get around them. As parental alienation gets worse, the child will become more detached from the alienated parent and strongly resist spending time with them.

How is parental alienation viewed in custody decisions?

Unfortunately, parental alienation can sometimes lead to false accusations of abuse or neglect. This can complicate child custody cases if the alienated parent is not able to disprove the allegations and show the judge what is really happening.

If a family court judge understands the real dynamics at play, parental alienation will be viewed very negatively in a child custody case. Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse, and in severe cases, the alienating parent could lose custody. In mild or moderate cases, the judge may order parents to meet with a counselor to work through communication issues.