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Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers
Consider the following:
If so, the other parent may be damaging your relationship with your children and violating your parental rights. This is called parental alienation, and either parent, the custodial or the non-custodial parent, can act to cause alienation of affection.
You have a legal right to a relationship with your child in PA!
Whether it’s a mother turning a child against a father, or a father turning a child against a mother, we have helped resolve child alienation situations in Pennsylvania for over 40 years through mediation in PA family law, the collaborative process in PA, and child custody litigation. Call us if your ex is creating problems with your relationship with your children. You have rights, and we can help you exercise those rights.
Parental alienation is one parent interfering with the relationship the other parent has with their children. People also call it brainwashing a child against a parent, or malicious parent syndrome.
Parental alienation can take the form of physically keeping children away from the alienated parent, malicious speech or disparagement meant to create a division between the alienated parent and the children, undermining the alienated parent, or convincing the children to falsely accuse the alienated parent of abuse or neglect. The goal of the alienating parent is to cause estrangement and/or hostility between the children and the alienated parent.
The interfering parent may be bad-mouthing the other parent intentionally or may just be reacting to the divorce angrily and talking about it in front of the children. Either way, parental alienation is harmful to both the children and the alienated parent.
Simply put, parental alienation is the term used to describe one parent manipulating the children to cause the children to disrespect or hate the other parent and refuse to spend time with them.
Signs of child manipulation by a parent include:
Not per se, unless there is another component to the act of alienating the children from the other parent such as child abuse, which is a crime.
If the alienating parent physically takes possession of the child when not authorized, for example, if not having custody, or parenting time is not scheduled, that may be a felony of the third degree punishable with up to seven years in prison.
A parent found guilty of interference with child custody can lose custody entirely.
A family law judge also may, in their discretion, charge an alienating parent who is not complying with the custody order or visitation schedule with contempt of court.
You can prove parental alienation by first documenting all instances of conduct and speech you suspect are causing parental alienation, and the behavior of your child or children toward you as a result.
Next, you should consult a child custody lawyer in Pennsylvania right away – time is of the essence, as the longer the alienation is allowed to take place, there may be more damage to your relationship with your children.
If you have a case for parental alienation, your attorney will prepare a motion to be filed in family law court which will present proof of the instances of alienation. Depending upon the facts of your situation, your attorney may have to bring in a mental health professional who is experienced with parental alienation to help draft the motion.
In the motion your attorney will also ask the court to order that steps be taken to repair your relationship with your children. Such steps might include:
The family law judge will likely appoint a custody expert and schedule a trial, during which your attorney will argue that you are entitled to the relief requested because prior to the divorce, you had a healthy relationship with your children, and since then, certain conduct or speech by the alienating parent damaged the children’s relationship with you.
If your motion is successful, there then is the issue of enforcing the court’s order. For example, if the alienating parent is the custodial parent and persists in calling or texting the children during the alienated parent’s parenting time and makes inappropriate commentary to the child, the judge has the power to reduce the amount of child support paid to the custodial parent.
A parent can lose custody for parental alienation, so the answer may be yes.
In extreme cases of parental alienation, a family law judge in PA may determine that the best interests of the children will be served by granting custody to the non-alienated parent due to the emotional harm the alienating parent is causing the children.
Manipulating and convincing children to make false allegations of drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, violence or any form of child abuse is the type of severe parental alienation that might warrant a change in child custody in PA.
Do not wait – the longer you wait to take action, the more damage the relationship between you and your children may occur. Call our child custody attorneys today to schedule your parental alienation case consultation. We can help you take the necessary steps to repair that relationship, for your sake and also your children’s.