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Parental alienation part of custody disputes

Child custody disputes in Texas may be bitter. Parental alienation is a major problem and is even formally recognized in this country on April 25 this year.

Parental alienation is defined as a condition where a parent or grandparent engages in ongoing and pervasive expressions of hostility toward or marginalizes the alienated parent. Because of this hostility, children may have seemingly just cause for being hostile toward or rejecting the alienated parent. Some extreme alienators even make false allegations that the other parent sexually abused their child or have their children make these untrue claims.

Courts may not always timely recognize the signs of alienation. Despite their best efforts, judges may not always impose adequate penalties or correct this coercive behavior.

Symptoms of alienation include a child who does not want to stay with the alienated parent even though they had a good relationship with that parent and expresses an inexplicable, vague or adult-signing reason for rejecting these visits. The alienating parent may also refuse opportunities for their child to privately speak with their other parent.

Circumstantial proof also includes a cooling relationship and avoidance of the other parent without reasonable cause. More objective proof includes testimony from an expert that the child is alienated.

Alienators often do not fear any consequences for their efforts. They may continue to oppose the alienated efforts to reduce spousal or child support in court.

Children may suffer serious consequences for this behavior. They can wrongfully perceive the alienated parent as engaging in misconduct or being evil, disagreeable or abusive toward the alienating parent. Children may become disobedient and jaded and engage in misbehavior as they become older.

Legal representation in these circumstances may help assure that the court considers the best interests of the child and protects parental rights. Lawyers can help obtain evidence and arguments for an alienated parent.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, “End parental alienation now,” By Stephen P. Haller and Jennie L. Osborne, April 23, 2018

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