Parental alienation is when one parent undermines the relationship between the child and the other parent, creating a sense of hostility and estrangement in the child towards the other parent. This phenomenon can have serious adverse effects on children's mental and emotional well-being, as well as their relationship with the targeted parent.
Parental alienation is a term used to describe a situation where one parent engages in behaviors that undermine the relationship between a child and the other parent. In cases of parental alienation, the targeted parent is often demonized, criticized, and rejected by the child, leading to a damaged relationship and emotional harm to the child.
Some common behaviors of an alienating parent may include:
- Speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child
- Interfering with communication between the child and the other parent
- Refusing to allow the child to spend time with the other parent
- Making false accusations against the other parent, such as claiming abuse or neglect
- Forcing the child to choose between the parents
The effects of parental alienation on children can be severe and long-lasting. Children may develop anxiety, depression, and a sense of abandonment, and they may struggle to form healthy relationships with others as they grow older. In addition to the emotional harm caused by parental alienation, there may also be legal implications.
In cases of parental alienation, the targeted parent may seek legal remedies such as modifying a custody order, child support payment, or seeking a contempt of court order against the alienating parent.
Parental Alienation in New York State
New York State recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship between a child and both parents. Therefore, when making custody and parenting time decisions, the court considers the child's best interests, including the child's relationship with both parents. Additionally, New York State law allows for modifications to custody and visitation orders in cases where one parent interferes with the other parent's relationship with the child.
In some cases, parental alienation may also constitute child abuse or neglect. If a child is being denied access to the other parent, or if the alienating parent is making false accusations of abuse or neglect, the targeted parent may seek legal remedies such as a contempt of court order or a modification of custody.
How to Recognize Parental Alienation
Recognizing parental alienation can be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with its behaviors and patterns. However, there are some common signs and behaviors that may indicate that parental alienation is occurring.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- The child is consistently hostile or resistant towards one parent, even if that parent has not done anything to justify this behavior.
- The child makes negative comments about the targeted parent, using language that seems beyond their years or that they may have learned from the other parent.
- The child seems anxious or upset when spending time with the targeted parent or may refuse to spend time with that parent altogether.
- The child is given inappropriate responsibility or decision-making power regarding custody or parenting time arrangements.
- The alienating parent interferes with communication between the child and the targeted parent, such as by intercepting phone calls or refusing to pass along messages.
It is important to remember that not all cases of parental alienation are intentional, and some behaviors may result from mental health issues or a difficult co-parenting relationship. However, regardless of the cause, it is crucial to address parental alienation to ensure that children have healthy, loving relationships with both of their parents.
Legal Remedies for Parental Alienation in New York State
If you or your child is experiencing parental alienation in New York State, there are legal remedies available to protect your rights and the child's relationship with both parents.
- Modification of Custody or Parenting Time Orders
In cases where one parent is interfering with the other parent's relationship with the child, the targeted parent may seek a modification of the custody or parenting time order.
- Contempt of Court
If the alienating parent is violating a court order, such as refusing to allow the child to spend time with the other parent, the targeted parent may seek a contempt court order. A contempt of court ruling can result in penalties such as fines or jail time for the violating parent.
- Therapy for the Child and Family
In some cases, therapy may be recommended for the child and the family to address the emotional harm caused by parental alienation. Therapy can be ordered by the court or sought independently by the parents.
- Criminal Charges
In extreme cases, parental alienation may be considered child abuse or neglect, and criminal charges may be pursued against the alienating parent. However, this is rare and typically only occurs in cases of severe and ongoing alienation.
It is important to note that legal remedies for parental alienation can be complex and may require the expertise of a family law attorney. If you believe that you or your child is experiencing parental alienation, it is important to seek legal advice to understand your rights and options. By taking action to address parental alienation, you can work towards maintaining a healthy, loving relationship with your child.
Anthony LoPresti has over 30 years of family law experience, including dealing with parents who have been the victim of parental alienation. Call our office at 516-252-0223 for a free consultation.