Divorce is a nasty business. It can get nastier when there’s a child involved. It will get even more nasty when one parent purposely pits that child against the other parent. Say the experts in a recent report, if you’re a father who has been systematically removed from your child’s life by a former spouse who constantly puts you down in front of your son or daughter, you need to contact a divorce attorney to fight a possible case of parental alienation.
Sadly, one the most common matters family law and divorce law practices encounter post-divorce is parental alienation on behalf of the mother who, most of the time, is the primary custodial parent. A major example of this syndrome happens when the child’s mom makes statements to the girl or boy that undermines the father. Statements like, “I love you more than he does,” and “he only spends the minimum amount of time with you because he doesn’t want to pay so much child support,” would count as parental alienation in a court of law.
One more example of parental alienation occurs when a mom discourages her child from making a scheduled visit to his or her dad’s home. The mother might offer the child some sort of incentive if the child skips the visit, like a toy, or more TV time.
So how does a dad fight a cold, calculated case of parental alienation on the part of the divorced mom?
Modification of the Parenting Plan
If the dad’s divorce lawyer agrees a case of alienation on the part of the mother is indeed occurring, the alienated father can go after a “material change of circumstances.” Conduct that can be interpreted as parental alienation could, by law, constitute just such a change. A modification could be awarded to the dad in the best interest of the child.
Factors Trial Courts Will Consider
- Each of the parent’s potential for performance in the future of parenting responsibly. This also includes the parent’s willingness to encourage a close relationship with both mother and father.
- The court will also consider the history of not just the mother but of both parents when it comes denying a child parenting time with either mother or father. Whenever this occurs it is considered a violation of a signed divorce agreement which is a court order.
- The parent’s overall conduct. If the mother is drinking too much, or seeing an abusive boyfriend, or not paying enough attention to the child, she could risk damage to the boy or girl’s “psychological development.”
If the Court Says Parental Alienation Has Occurred
If the court agrees that parental alienation on the part of the mother has occurred, there exists several solutions to the situation for the father to consider.
- A change in custody. While this is a longshot, there are instances whereby the offending parent (the mother) who was originally granted primary or even full custody can be ordered by the court to hand over said custody to the wronged parent. In this case, the alienated father.
- Suspension of contact of the alienating parent with the child for a specified amount of time.
- Court ordered counseling for the alienating parent and that said parent follow the counselor’s advice.
- Court ordered social services supervised visits on behalf of the alienating parent and the child.
If the divorced non-custodial parent of a child feels as though he has become the target of parental alienation on behalf of the divorced primary custodial mother, or that parental alienation is and has been ongoing, it’s imperative for the aggrieved father to keep a written journal of these alienating incidents.
The divorced father can then reveal the list of the divorced mother’s alienating incidents to his divorce or family law attorney. The list will, in turn, serve as a record of the mother’s offenses which will be utilized in the preparation of the overall family court case.
When it comes to presenting a case on behalf of the non-custodial father to a family court, it is often considered an uphill battle. This means that case preparation on behalf of the attorney and the aggrieved father is paramount.
What Should an Alienated Father Avoid
According to one divorce attorney, court delays are the biggest drawback that a father may face. But there are a series of motions attorneys can put into play to get the court system to move faster. What’s interesting to note however, statistics show that many alienating moms would rather give in then stand trial in a case of parental alienation. Because after all, there is her reputation to think of.
But if the attorney can somehow get in certain questions used for discovery where the offending mother must speak under oath, some illuminating if not surprising admissions can then be used to the presiding judge to render a new court order on behalf of the father.
The overall idea is to expose an alienating parent for what they are, and not allow them to hide behind lies and/or false information.