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Family & Divorce Law

Is parental alienation a real concern during child custody cases?

By Tolison & Williams / April 19, 2016

Colorado residents may have heard the term "parental alienation" and are aware that it has something to do with child custody cases. The concept is that one parent can cause his or her child to emotionally detach from the other parent through a form of brainwashing. The issue is a serious matter, because if a court of law finds that parental alienation is a factor in a child's refusal to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent, the end result can be a loss of child custody.

Many people feel that parental alienation is a dangerous concept and that it could have the net effect of illegitimatizing claims of abuse. For example, consider a case in which a mother claims that her former husband has abused one or more of the couple's shared children. The kids back up those assertions, and want nothing to do with their father. The father could mount a strong legal stance, claiming that the kids have been brainwashed into believing that they have been abused and that he has done nothing to warrant those claims. If the court believes the father, the mother could be painted as an abusive parent, one who has led her children to make false claims of abuse.

Proving abuse can be a very difficult matter, which is why so many cases are never prosecuted. Unless there is physical evidence, eyewitness testimony or strong indication from a child that abuse has taken place, the courts have little to work with when one parent makes abuse claims against the other. In some cases, this leads to the assumption that the parent who is making claims of abuse is doing so only to improve his or her standing in court. At that point, many parents find themselves accused of parental alienation.

Want to learn more about parental rights? Here's what you need to know.

For those Colorado spouses who are preparing to divorce an abusive partner and are concerned about how to document abuse, it is imperative to work with a divorce attorney who is experienced in the area of domestic violence. Having the proper level of proof can help parents ensure that their children are safe, even after the marriage has ended. It can also be helpful to understand how parental alienation is being used in child custody cases, and to take proactive steps to avoid being accused of poisoning one's children against their mother or father.

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Source: ABC News, "Are Some Divorcing Parents Brainwashing Their Children? The Controversial Idea of Parental Alienation", Lauren Pearle, April 8, 2016

Tags: Child Custody

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