Children benefit from a healthy relationship with both parents when possible. However, the actions of one parent could make collaborative co-parenting difficult, if not impossible.
When one parent tries to emotionally distance a child from the other parent or guardian, an adjustment to custody arrangements might be necessary for the welfare of the family.
Defining parental alienation
Parental alienation refers to when one parent tries to bias a child against the other parent without good reasons. This coercion harms the relationship between the parent and child and creates confusing feelings in the child that can lead to complications in future relationships. Sadly, recent studies find that over 22 million adults in the United States have been targets of parental alienation.
Such alienation does not include situations where a child genuinely fears one parent due to abuse or neglect. Also, alienation is not about reasonable concerns for a child’s safety. Rather, the focus is on unjustified interference in the parent-child relationship.
Proving parental alienation to the court
Proving parental alienation in a New Jersey court requires showing evidence of consistent actions that harm the relationship between a child and parent. Evidence could include records of negative comments that one parent made about the other without valid reasons, such as in emails, text messages or phone calls. Of course, a person must obtain such records legally to be admissible as evidence.
A record of events that demonstrate how a child’s actions or demeanor toward a parent suddenly changed is also helpful. Specific examples of attempts to keep the child away without good explanations strengthen the case.
At the same time, a parent can maintain a record of attempts to contact the child, noting dates and reasons for unavailability. Parents can also prepare a list of witnesses who can testify to signs of alienation, including friends, family, counselors, teachers and caregivers.
Parental alienation causes damage to a family that can take years to undo. However, the justice system provides methods for an alienated parent to improve the situation before excessive harm occurs.