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Parental alienation as it relates to child custody

In a majority of cases, the court will find it in the best interest of children of divorce to spend time with both parents. However, some parents will try to turn their kids against the other parent through a process known as parental alienation. In essence, one parent reprograms the child to turn against the other to undermine the other parent's efforts, which can significantly degrade the effectiveness of any child custody arrangement. 

Child custody often becomes one of the most contentious issues of any divorce proceeding. Although it is normal for there to be some ill will, it is vital for a victim of parental alienation to bring it to the attention of the court to maintain the respect of the children.

Common signs

There are several signs that a parent has become victim to parental alienation. One parent may try to isolate the child from any outside support and make the child associate anything with the other parent as "bad." In the event the child comes into contact with any of the other parent's friends or coworkers, the parent in charge may convince the child to not trust anyone. The parent alienating the child will also create a stark moral dynamic. Anything the abusive parent does is "good." No matter what the other parent does, the abusive parent labels it as "bad."

How the courts may handle it

Signs of parental alienation can impact the final child custody verdict. However, it will be up to the parent to produce evidence such alienation has occurred. The abusive parent may have convinced the child to lie to the court, so it becomes necessary to provide voicemails, text messages and emails. Testimony from eyewitnesses can also speak of how they saw one parent abusing the other. The courts need to determine if the couple can work together to raise the child. One parent constantly disparaging the other will not create a healthy environment for the child.

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