The ideal situation for any custody case is for both parents to care about and put the interests of their children first. However, the ideal situation rarely happens. When it comes to custody matters, emotions tend to run high.
The parents are not together for a reason, and the reason is usually they do not get along. When this dislike for the other parent turns into something more, parental alienation can become an issue.
Defining Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation Syndrome occurs when one parent actively makes an effort to negatively influence the child’s relationship with or view of his or her other parent.
It normally occurs when the parent who has the child for the majority of the time tries to keep the child from wanting to spend time with the other child. It can be done unintentionally, but when it is done intentionally, courts tend to take matters very seriously.
Not only does it put a strain on the already strained relationship between parent and child, but it can cause serious harm emotionally and socially to the child.
How To Recognize Parental Alienation
The signs are not always immediately recognized and often build up over time, but parental alienation could be occurring if the parent notices that the child is suddenly disrespectful toward him or her, especially in the presence of the other parent.
If the child is making excuses or refusing to see the parent or have any communication, parental alienation could be occurring. Many times, the parent who is being alienated will notice that his or her child is using words that seem to come directly from the other parent and not the child.
The parent may also notice that the child begins to show negativity towards spending time with extended family. In extreme situations, the parent may make false statements alleging that the parent is being abusive towards the child.
If any of this behavior begins to occur, it is recommended that a family law attorney be contacted before things get too far.
What Can Be Done About Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is important business, and Texas courts take these matters seriously. Once one parent begins to “poison” the mind of a child, irreparable damage can be done to the parent-child relationship, as well as to the child’s emotional well-being.
Therefore, it is important that an attorney be contacted quickly. An attorney can review the situation and advise on the best course of action.
Two different avenues are normally taken when it comes to parental alienation: enforcement of custody orders or custody modification.
Many times, the parent who is being alienated simply wants to be able to see his or her child. If the other parent is not following the custody order, that parent can be held in contempt of court.
If the situation is serious enough, therapeutic intervention may need to occur. For instance, if the child has not seen the alienated parent in a significant period of time, the court may be hesitant to force the child to go to what the law defaults to in terms of parenting time.
They may believe a progressive approach may be needed, starting with smaller, set periods of the parent and child interacting and working up to the full-time plan.
While this situation is not ideal or what the parent would want, the courts have to take what is in the child’s best interests into consideration.
If the child has been pulled away from his or her parent due to the behavior of the other parent, that child may require some therapy to repair whatever damage that has been done, whether unfair or not.
In serious situations, a custody modification may be sought. The court may believe that the other parent will not stop the alienating behavior even if the current order were to be enforced, and because of this, the court may believe that the child may be better served in the care of the alienated parent.
Modification of custody is not a simple legal matter, and it is always recommended that the parent seeking the modification consult with an attorney before going forward.
Seeking The Assistance of Experts
Because the courts take these matters so seriously, a guardian ad litem may often be appointed for the child. The court may also look to expert testimony in the form of recommendations from the child’s therapists as to what is in that child’s best interests.
A family law attorney will be able to line up these experts and utilize their testimony so that the court receives all of the information that is needed to make the best decision for all involved.
Contact Scott M. Brown & Associates Today
To discuss what would be in the best interests of your children in a custody determination if you believe parental alienation is occurring, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown & Associates. You can reach us by calling 281-612-8241. We have offices in Angleton, Houston, and Pearland.