Parental Alienation in New York
When making decisions related to child custody, the court must determine the custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. Ideally, both parents will have significant access to the child so that the child will have a healthy relationship with each parent, even though the parents may no longer have a romantic relationship and may no longer even get along. Ideally, the parents will strive to put their differences aside and work together to develop a successful co-parenting relationship. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Instead of making an effort to help the other parent maintain a good relationship with the child, there are instances in which one parent actively works to damage the other parent’s relationship with the child. This is referred to as parental alienation. If you are concerned that your child’s other parent’s words or actions are forcing you out of your child’s life, contact an experienced New York parental alienation lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We will work hard on your behalf to ensure that you have the opportunity to foster a positive relationship with your child.Parental Alienation
It is well established in New York that unless it is proven otherwise, it is in the best interests of a child to have a relationship with both of their parents. For this reason, when making custody decisions, courts stress the importance of parental cooperation. Courts want the parents to work together to co-parent and will consider evidence related to each parent’s ability and willingness to cooperate with the other parent and encourage the child to have a positive relationship with the other parent.
Seen most often in contentious divorces, parental alienation occurs when one parent in effect destroys the child’s relationship with the other parent by manipulating the child into having negative feelings toward the other parent. The result of parental alienation is that the child does not wish to see the other parent. Many view parental alienation as a form of child abuse.Methods of Parental Alienation
As a New York parental alienation lawyer will explain, there are many ways that a parent can cause parental alienation. One way is to lie to the child about something related to the other parent that makes the parent look bad in the child’s eyes. For example, the noncustodial parent contacts the custodial parent to tell them that they need to reschedule the visitation to the next day because of car trouble. Instead of agreeing to it, the custodial parent refuses, and tells the child that the noncustodial parent cancelled the visitation because they have better things to do and does not make spending time with the child a priority.
Another common method of parental alienation occurs when one parent blames the divorce on the other parent. Constantly discussing the break up with the child or around the child in a manner that puts the blame on the other parent may lead the child to also blame the other parent. This can cause the child to resent the other parent. Generally, it is a bad idea for parents to reveal details about the divorce to the child.
Expressing hurt and sadness when the child prepares to spend time with the other parent is another method of parental alienation. The child may then begin to feel bad for abandoning the other parent and worries about it. As a result, the child may eventually not want to go with the other parent out of concern for the feelings of the manipulating parent. Parents should avoid putting their children in situations where they have to choose one parent over the other or where they have to bear the responsibility of whether or not the parent is happy.Parental Alienation Factors
While New York courts recognize parental alienation as a legitimate claim, and, if proven, a reason for making a custody modification, the standard of proof is high in that there must be evidence that the actions of the manipulating parent caused the child to refuse to spend time with the other parent. In J.F. v. D.F., 2018 NY Slip Op 51829(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018), the Supreme Court of Monroe County found that to prevail on a claim of parental alienation, the petitioner parent must have evidence of each of the following 4 factors:
- The manipulating parent must have initiated the conduct for no legitimate reason
- The intention of the manipulating parent must have been to cause the child to have a negative opinion of the other parent
- The actions of the manipulating parent must have been the reason that the child did not want to spend time with the other parent
- The result of the manipulating parent’s actions was that the child refused to spend time with the other parent
In New York, courts loathe parental alienation. It can be the basis for a custody modification as parental alienation is not in the best interests of the child. However, before a court will disturb an existing custody arrangement, it must be convinced by evidence that it is in the best interests of the child to make a change in custody. Because parental alienation is not easy to prove, if you suspect parental alienation, your best course of action is to contact an experienced parental alienation attorney in New York. The court will likely hear evidence from not only the parents, but also from the children and therapists who have interviewed the parents and the children.
If you are concerned about parental alienation, it is important to document every instance of manipulation by the other parent and collect supporting evidence. Evidence may include emails, texts, social media posts, and police reports. While it is important to have sufficient evidence that shows a pattern of behavior and the impact the behavior has had on your child, it is also important to take steps to address the problem as quickly as possible. The damage caused by parental alienation can be significant. You and your child might need counseling to rebuild your relationship.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Parental alienation is a distressing issue that can have far-reaching effects on both parents and, most importantly, the child involved. Recognizing the signs of parental alienation and understanding its legal implications is essential for addressing the issue effectively. If you find yourself dealing with parental alienation, consulting an experienced parental alienation attorney serving New York is a crucial step towards safeguarding your rights and fostering a healthy relationship with your child. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates we are dedicated to providing compassionate and skilled legal assistance to clients facing parental alienation cases, ensuring the child's best interests remain at the forefront of all legal proceedings. Reach out to us today for guidance and support in navigating this challenging situation. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.