Understanding how to prove parental alienation is crucial in custody battles where one parent may be undermining the child’s relationship with the other. When custody issues get ugly, one parent sometimes sabotages the child’s relationship with the other parent, resulting in parental alienation. As a parent, having your child reject you can break your heart. Thankfully, if you suspect your co-parent is trying to turn your child against you, you have legal options.
When you are ready to fight for your child, you want a capable, trusted family lawyer. You also need to go into the fight with an understanding of how to prove parental alienation. Countering deceit takes a lawyer willing to have hard conversations and be upfront and honest about your prospects. Larson Law Office’s experienced family lawyers can provide you with the services you need to fight for your child.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when a caretaker wields their influence to alienate a child from the child’s parent. As a result, the child rejects the targeted parent disproportionately to any actions the rejected parent took. Parental alienation is typically deliberate, but the favored parent may cause alienation inadvertently, through lies and deceit, by coaching the child, or through a combination of actions.
Sometimes, a parent may inadvertently cause parental alienation. They may complain about their former partner’s shortcomings so frequently and so negatively that the child begins to believe what the begrudged parent claims.
Lies and Manipulation
Other times, parental alienation can result from outright lies and manipulation. The favored parent may tell the child you do not want to see them even though you do. Or the favored parent may orchestrate events to paint the rejected parent in a bad light.
Parental alienation can also result from a caretaker coaching the child to make accusations. These accusations may be baseless or exaggerated versions of events. They can involve anything from claiming the rejected parent neglected, physically harmed, or even sexually abused the child.
How to Respond to Parental Alienation
If you suspect your child is being influenced to reject you, seek help from qualified professionals. Your team should include, at a minimum, a family lawyer and a qualified therapist.
Reach out to a psychologist who specializes in treating children with a history of parental alienation. If possible, have the child begin seeing the therapist regularly, if you have the right to do this if you are operating under an existing order. You may also discuss the situation with the psychologist yourself.
Consult an experienced custody attorney with an understanding of parental alienation as well. Your lawyer can help you understand how to win back an alienated child and your likelihood of success. Making a careful plan of attack is crucial, especially when the child has been coached to make untrue accusations against you.
What Not To Do
Never take things into your own hands. Do not try to take or keep your child outside of scheduled custody times, even if the favored parent has prevented you from getting the time you are entitled to. Do not take your frustrations out on the favored parent or those close to them. To the extent possible, show up and be consistent in demonstrating your desire to participate in your child’s life.
How to Prove Parental Alienation in Court
Most states do not have direct parental alienation laws. Texas is no exception, but Texas law is explicit that parents have the right to have a relationship with their children.
Best Interests of the Child and Custody Modifications
The legal standard for determining how custody should work focuses on the best interests of the child. Factors that help a court resolve the child’s best interests include, among other things, the child’s expressed preferences and the quality of care the child will receive with each parent.
If you already have a custody agreement, you will need to petition to modify it. You can modify an established child custody arrangement when circumstances have “materially and substantially” changed since the original order.
A parent unjustifiably interfering with the other parent’s relationship with the child may qualify as a material and substantial change. As a result, you may be able to modify who has primary physical custody, enforce established visitation rights, or set other limitations.
Making Your Case
Proving a case of parental alienation can be difficult, especially when accusations of abuse or neglect are involved. What looks like parental alienation can, at times, be the favored parent attempting to protect the child from an abusive parent. Understanding what the other side looks like can help you set expectations and target your case strategy. Evidence that can help you make your case may include:
- Texts, emails, and other communications;
- Testimony from yourself or other witnesses;
- Documentation of your commitment to being in your child’s life
- Reports from therapists or other mental health professionals.
Depending on the strength of your evidence, you may have to work on increasing your time with your child step by step.
Contact a Custody Lawyer
You do not have to give up on having a relationship with your child and let the favored parent get away with their misdeeds. You can fight to get your relationship with your child back one step at a time. Reach out to the Larson Law Office for a free consultation and to discuss more about how to prove parental alienation in your unique situation.