Do false claims of alienation of a child exist? I would like to answer with a resounding “No!” However, the answer is, unfortunately, “Yes, they do.” They occur just like other false claims that happen during family disputes and divorces. In some cases, when the relationship has been on rocky ground prior to the divorce or separation, alienation roots often trace back long before. Alienation of a child is not always about contact nor is it about the rejected parent. It’s about a parent creating a situation in that the child is manipulated into being hyper-aligned with him or her leading to the rejection of the other under the guise that the parent has chosen to alienate the child.
This type of unhealthy alignment causes the child to make false claims, although not intentional by the child, as the other parent has convinced them this is true. As a family law professional, this type of manipulation and influence is mentally abusive and can be grounds for a custody modification or contempt of court. In my experience, children that have a valid reason for alienating a parent due to abuse or other negative factors do not typically use the reason as the marriage break-up or the familial split. I am certainly not minimalizing the trauma associated with a divorce or family break-up that a child experiences, however, there is a difference in the trauma associated with alienating a parent due to physical or other abuse and a child that has been manipulated into believing the other parent doesn’t want to see them because of the dissolution of the marriage or relationship.
Fortunately, the courts are recognizing that intentional parental alienation is a problem. In fact, Arkansas courts state that one of the responsibilities of the custodial parent is to foster a strong and healthy relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. If it is proven that a parent is causing the alienation, this can be a basis for change in custody. The courts have always maintained that the child’s best interest is above any other secondary issue. That is why they are becoming more willing to acknowledge signs of parental alienation as a sufficient basis to change custody. In cases where the custody and visitation agreements are in place, a parent can be charged in contempt of court if he or she does not honor the court order.
Regardless of your feelings about your former partner, there is no reason to mentally abuse a child by manipulating them into thinking that the other parent does not want to see them. I understand that the other parent has caused you some kind of emotional harm, at minimum, but unless the other parent is proven to be unfit, i.e., violent, addicted to drugs or alcohol, etcetera, there is no reason to destroy a relationship the child could have with both parents. The intentions behind the motive are most likely to cause pain and anguish to the other parent, but the only real losers in this scenario are the children. It has been proven that alienation is linked to anger problems, educational issues, eating disorders, depression, and lifelong relationship issues.
If you believe, your child is being manipulated into alienating you or a loved one, contact Hickey and Hull Law Partners today. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414 and our Northwest Arkansas office number is 479.802.6560 or you can chat online.