In a divorce involving minor children, issues of child custody can become contentious. When one parent actively tries to turn a child away from the other parent, however, this may be evidence of parental alienation. If your soon-to-be-ex is interfering with your parental rights, you need the informed representation that Cohen Family Law provides.
Our experienced divorce attorneys are well-aware that parental alienation can seriously damage your relationship with your child. We are up-to-date with the changes to Arizona’s legal decision making laws regarding child custody issues and will work closely with you to protect your parental rights and the well-being of your child.
Understanding Parental Alienation in Arizona
While it is common for parents to fight with each other over child custody, parental alienation involves much more than that. Instead, parental alienation occurs when one parent makes a deliberate attempt to turn a child against the other parent. This can happen if a parent makes derogatory comments about the other parent directly to the child. In addition, alienation may not be limited to the parent, but involve other family members as well.
If this happens on a regular basis, such comments can have a negative impact on the child and seriously damage the parent-child relationship. Examples of parental behavior that can cause alienation include:
- Frequently criticizing the other parent in the child’s presence
- Blaming the other parent for the marital break-up
- Making false allegations about the other parent
- Trying to make the child feel guilty for wanting to spend time with the other parent
- Creating unnecessary drama and tension during the other parent’s visitation time
- Not telling the child about phone calls from the other parent
- Excluding the other parent from the child’s extracurricular activities
- Refusing to share medical or other information about the child
- Failing to follow a visitation schedule
Ultimately, parental alienation is a form of child abuse that the court will seriously consider when making a child custody determination. The best way to protect your parental rights is to work with our dedicated family law attorneys.
At Cohen Family Law, we truly understand the lasting repercussions that parental alienation will have on your relationship with your child. When you become our client, we will provide you with knowledge and emotional support as we work to restore order to your family.
The Warning Signs
Over time, children may begin to demonstrate the effects of parental alienation; signs to watch for include:
- The child is no longer happy to see you during visitation
- The child suddenly becomes angry or resentful towards you
- The child inexplicably acts uncomfortable around you
- The child repeats negative comments about you made by the other parent
- The child only replies with brief, monosyllabic answers
- The child becomes more difficult to discipline
While these are only a few of the signs a child may display, the inner turmoil may result in irreversible emotional harm and lasting damage to the parent-child relationship. The sooner you contact Cohen Family Law, the sooner we can start working on a solution.
How Do Arizona Courts View Parental Alienation?
Although Arizona’s child custody law has been modified, and the court is required to recognize each parent’s role in raising the child, judges take exception to parental alienation. In addition, judges are required to primarily consider the child’s best interests when making child custody determinations.
Because parental alienation harms children, judges will consider it and evaluate which parent is more likely to allow more meaningful and consistent custody with the other parent. The court may also take specific steps to mitigate the effects of alienation, including:
- Ordering family counseling to repair the parent-child relationship
- Modifying a previous child custody order
If alienation rises to the level of custodial interference where one parent violates a child custody order, that parent may be held in contempt.
Contact Our Experienced Arizona Parental Alienation Attorneys
Despite the fact that Arizona recognizes the parental rights of mothers and fathers, parental alienation is not uncommon. If your relationship with your child is being jeopardized by the other parent, it is important to act quickly to mitigate the harm to your child.
At Cohen Family Law, we develop a legal strategy to stop the alienation. Although evidence of parental alienation is usually circumstantial, it may be possible to document this through emails, text messages, social media posts, and similar types of proof. Depending on the circumstances, it may also be helpful to call on friends, teachers, coaches and other witnesses to testify about the other parent’s harmful behavior.
Although we prefer to resolve child custody and parental alienation cases through the family law mediation process, we are prepared to go to court to modify a child custody order. Above all, we will work with you to find a solution that is in the best interests of your child. Please reach out to our office today to schedule a consultation.