Parental Alienation is becoming a commonly used term in our Court System. Many people are now asking, exactly what does it mean and how does it affect the outcome of a custody dispute?
Parental Alienation is the term used to describe the destruction of a child’s relationship with one parent by the other parent’s actions. It can include systematically removing the parent from the child’s life by making it impossible after a divorce/separation for the other parent to be involved, or it may include speaking negatively about the other parent in front of or to the child.
Parental alienation is a hotly debated issue in child custody cases and in the nation. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is currently considering whether Parental Alienation should be considered a mental disorder. Supporters arguing for inclusion sight the horrible repercussions alienation can have on children of divorce. Those against inclusion argue that there is not enough science to support inclusion and further that it will be used by abusive parents to deflect attention from abusive behavior.
What does this mean for your case? Regardless of what the APA recognizes, courts are hearing evidence regarding parental alienation. Bad behavior of either parent is given due weight in custody disputes. However, the task that courts may find difficult is determining the root cause of the break-down in the parent/child relationship. Until and unless parental alienation is recognized by the APA, it will continue to be in the hands of skilled DC divorce attorneys to present enough evidence regarding the issue.