The Courts Take a Strong Position Against Parental Alienation

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The Dangers of Parental Alienation

It might seem a bit extreme.  Can children actually be sentenced to Juvenile Detention for refusing to talk to a divorced parent?  Apparently, if you live in Michigan, there is that risk.  According to a story that made national headlines, a judge punished two youngsters and their teenage brother for failing to communicate with their father.    The judge blamed the children’s mother for turning her offspring against her former spouse.  This takes the dangers of parental alienation to a new level.

What is Parental Alienation?

Unfortunately, parental alienation is a potential consequence of some relationship breakups.  Mom or dad may be so incensed with their former partner that they seek revenge.  In some cases, either parent may see the children as leverage in the divorce.  Some may justify their actions as protective.  Others simply cannot control their own hurt.  Many consider parental alienation to be a form of emotional abuse.

Studies have been conducted on parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome, which may arise from this conduct.  There is no question that parental alienation is detrimental to all involved parties.  It is bad enough for children to suffer through divorce or separation.  It is even worse when they must struggle with the possibility that a part of them is less than desirable.  Children should be shielded from the divorce process and not encouraged to take sides.  They should not be brainwashed or subjected to a spirit of hatred.

New Jersey and Parental Alienation

Unlike Michigan, there are no known New Jersey cases of children sentenced to juvenile hall as a result of parental alienation or defiance against visitation orders.  As an aside, New Jersey courts consider parental alienation so egregious that parents may go outside Family Court to sue for damages. 

What happens in cases of parental alienation?  In Family Court, the judge will consider the circumstances and the gravity of the situation. If the children are old enough, they may be asked to meet with the judge to discuss the accusations.  Psychological evaluations may be ordered.  Counseling sessions to correct the behavior may also be mandated by the court. 

Be aware.  If the custodial parent is guilty of parental alienation, there is a risk that custody can be withdrawn by the court.  Children are entitled to the love and affection of both parents.  Likewise, parents have the same entitlement.

Contact Us

One of the best gifts divorcing parents can give to their children is to keep them out of the divorce.  Forego the temptation to provide them with all the sordid details.  Ultimately, the children will benefit from your behavior.  If you have been charged with parental alienation, it is important to secure experienced legal advice.  The same is true if you feel that your children’s other parent is turning them against you.  Sam Stoia is an understanding and skilled advocate.  Contact Sam to discuss your issues concerning parental alienation.