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Parental Alienation and PA Family Law Cases: What You Need to Know

15 Jul 2019, by Brandy Benefield in Family Law
Parents arguing in front of young daugher

Written by Timothy Czekaj

Parenting when you have a difficult relationship with your child’s mother or father is challenging. It takes a great deal of patience to put your differences aside and focus on what is best for your son or daughter. Unfortunately, the other parent may not rise to the occasion. Instead of helping your child have a strong and healthy bond with both parents, your child’s mother or father may try to undermine your relationship or turn your child against you. This is known as parental alienation, and if you believe it is happening, you need to talk with an experienced Pennsylvania family lawyer right away.

To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact Czekaj Law, LLC today at (717) 275-9770.

What is Parental Alienation?

Psychology Today defines parental alienation as the brainwashing of a child by one parent by criticizing and disparaging the other parent. The purpose of this emotional and mental manipulation is to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent. Ultimately, the child begins to vilify the other parent with no justification for doing so.

Pennsylvania courts recognize that parental alienation can occur, and in extreme cases, may be considered a form of abuse.

Any parent may attempt to disrupt their child’s relationship with the other parent. When the victimized parent proves parental alienation is occurring during a divorce or child custody battle, a family court judge can consider this when deciding legal and physical child custody.

Proving Parental Alienation Can be Difficult

If you believe your child’s other parent is actively working against you, talk with a child custody lawyer right away. Divorces and custody battles are hard on everyone. Your relationship with your child may be suffering right now, even to the extent that your son or daughter does not wish to see you.

This type of behavior can arise in children for all sorts of reasons, and is not necessarily attributed to the other parent’s tactics. Because of this, you need proof that the other parent is intentionally interfering with your relationship with your child.

Your Child’s Testimony Can Support Your Case

If you wish to prove parental alienation during a child custody case, you may want your child to testify to the judge, although this depends on the circumstances and the extent of the alienation. If you have young child(ren), you may wish to allow the judge to talk with your child about how they feel regarding each parent and why. If your child has unfounded negative feelings toward you, this gives the judge the opportunity to unravel what is going on.

If your child is young, they may be able to testify regarding what the parent has said about you, whether they understood what it meant or not. An older teenager, who is not fully alienated from you, may be especially helpful in exposing what the parent has said to disparage you.

Relatives, Friends, Nannies, Therapists, and Counselors May be Helpful Witnesses

You might have relatives and friends who are willing to testify regarding what they have heard and seen in regard to the parental alienation. It can be helpful for an adult to reveal how they have witnessed your child’s other parent interfere with your relationship.

Another source of potential witnesses is child care providers. If a nanny or babysitter is routinely around your son or daughter and their other parent, they may have witnessed signs of intentional alienation.

Other possible witnesses are therapists who have treated you and/or the other parent or the child, or school counselors who regularly communicate with your son or daughter. Therapists or counselors may have unique insights into how a parent’s actions undermine or interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child.

However, you may not be able to compel a therapist to testify due to patient confidentiality. You should speak to a child custody lawyer about this.

Has the Other Parent Blocked Your Access to Your Child?

If the parental alienation has arisen in the form of missed parenting time and limited communications, talk with a lawyer right away. You should keep track of each time the other parent refuses to let you see your child when you have visitation, or does not meet for a parenting time exchange when it is your turn with your child.

Keep track of each time you are unable to reach your child by phone. If the other parent answers, take note of what they say or what excuse they use.

When you believe the other parent is keeping you from seeing your child, ask to see your child through text or email. By asking and receiving a response in writing, you have additional evidence for in court.

Talk with a Lawyer About Parental Alienation Today

If you fear your child’s other parent is intentionally badmouthing you and harming your relationship with your child, call Czekaj Law, LLC at (717) 275-9770. We understand how frustrating this situation can be, but you should not give up. We will help you remain consistent and persistent, and we will fight for your parental relationship in court. Contact us today to schedule a free, initial case evaluation.