Parental Alienation in Custody Disputes

Every lawyer who handles divorce cases recognizes that grimace.  We often see the reaction from other lawyers and people in everyday conversation when they hear we litigate divorces and custody matters.  Most often, the grimace is followed by a verbal recognition of how “draining” or “difficult” the business can be.

Invariably, that reference relates not merely to the two individuals who have decided that their marriage is no longer viable; rather, the fallout often squarely lands on the children caught in the midst of a custody battle during a divorce – or sometimes, in a residential relocation petition by one parent in the years after a divorce.

Where young children are involved, divorce lawyers regrettably see a frequency of parental alienation by one party or the other, an active or passive attempt by a divorce litigant to cause the children of that union to align against his or her soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Parental Alienation Syndrome consists of thoughts and behavior that can develop in a child of separated parents wherein the custodial parent causes a child, through repeated manipulation and restriction of visitation and access to the other parent, to unjustifiably fear or have anger towards the other parent.  Also referred to as “hostile aggressive parenting,” the syndrome essentially deprives a young child of his or her ability to be loved by – and show love for – both of his parents, unconditionally.

The syndrome manifests itself in our cases in many forms.  As lawyers, we have seen parents who file false police or DCF reports against the other parent to force an arrest or an ejection from the marital home.  We sometimes learn of a parent who loudly disparages the other within earshot of the minor children.  We often deal with litigants who unjustifiably attempt to “micro-manage” all aspects of visitation with the other parent, to the extent where the parental access – and the parent-child relationship itself – is materially (if not irreparably) harmed.

In divorce litigation, it is the attorneys’ task to dispassionately assess the evidence for and against our clients, to give sound advice, and to pursue legal remedies aggressively where other avenues have failed.  Protecting the rights and psychological well-being of children caught in the middle of litigation is, and must be, of the utmost concern.  At every turn, we seek to advise our clients of the perceived benefits, risks, and consequences of the lawsuit in which they are involved, lest they lose sight of the most valuable assets of their marriage: their children.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.