Does alienation trump abuse?

In the majority of divorces, courts heavily favor co-parenting as a custodial arrangement. Co-parenting, or joint custody, is when both parents share both legal and physical custody of children. This is a popular custody arrangement because it serves the best interest of the child in most cases.

However, in a case where one parent has a history of abuse or addiction, the courts theoretically favor sole custody. This is a good theory, but in some instances the data does not reflect this. According to Forbes Magazine, if a mother claims abuse but a father claims parental alienation, the court removed custody from the mother over 40% of the time.

What is parental alienation? 

Parental alienation has been around since the 1980s. A child psychologist theorized that women, bent on getting revenge against their ex-husbands, would falsely claim abuse in order to remove custody from fathers. However, modern child psychologists offer many rebuttals to this original hypothesis, claiming that there is no actual science behind parental alienation.

Despite this, fathers claiming parental alienation remains a very effective tactic in a custody battle. In fact, the evidence is so strong that, statistically, it is better for mothers to not make abuse claims if the mother’s end goal is to retain custody of children in some form.

Should I not allege abuse? 

While the statistics are frightening, the reality is that every custody case is different. In some cases, it may indeed work in your favor to not mention past cases of abuse if you want to avoid a parental alienation charge. However, custodial decisions are not made on one or two points alone. It is important to understand everything going into your particular child custody case before making decisions regarding abuse allegations.

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