Written by Canterbury Law Group

How To Prove Parental Alienation in Court

How To Prove Parental Alienation in Court

At first glance, parental alienation may seem a very daunting prospect to have to prove in a family law case. However, it is very important to document, prove and stop parental alienation. One reason it is difficult is, there is no physical evidence and law enforcement does not play a part. Often social services can prove less than helpful if there is no empirical evidence for them to rely on. Parental alienation is damaging. It can have severe impacts on the child or children involved, as well as for the parent who has been alienated. Read on to learn more about parental alienation and how it can be proved.

Step 1. Find Witnesses

The Mother and Father are the primary witnesses – but one is usually the culprit and the other – the victim. Children are also witnesses and can be subjected to alienation as well. Both these factors can assist in proving parental alienation to a court.  Children cannot generally appear in court for any reason or purpose and they certainly cannot testify.

Alienation may not be acknowledged or recognized by older teenagers if they have come to accept the alienation as the status quo – possibly impacting their ability to recognize the alienation as incorrect behavior. People mistakenly throw the term “brainwashed” around but there is no doubt when an older teenage child is strongly under the influence of a certain parent, it will mean looking at other avenues to prove parental alienation.

That said, teenagers can be very helpful when they have not yet been alienated, and their older age helps them to verbalize the state of the alienation in a way a younger child may not be able to. The older the teenager, the more likely (if they are not “brainwashed’) they are likely to explain the behavior and statements of their parents. However, every case must be taken on its individual merits and on the capability of those involved in giving testimony.

When it comes to dealing with a younger child or children (6 to 12 years), they may not have a full comprehension. Although, they may hear the words and see the actions of alienation – do they understand the what is happening, or understand the effects and consequences of such words and actions? It is a possibility by using ethical interviewing techniques that children can come to an understanding and may even expose the parental alienation.

Another route may be via a therapist who has had a consultation with the parents. In cases where the parents are undergoing joint marital therapy, the therapist may be compelled to testify when they have witnessed parental alienation or heard admissions of guilt from the offending party.

Some other potential witnesses may include:

  • Uncles
  • Nannies
  • Grandparents
  • Close friends
  • Brothers or sisters

When any of the above have spent a great deal of time with the child or children, they may be able to attest to the behavior and actions of the alienating parent, as well as what the child or children tell them. Admittedly, the last part is primarily hearsay, but if it is considered, it may help contribute to the evidence gathering process to prove parental alienation.

Step 2. Provide Documentation

Here are some methods you may be able to adopt to prove parental alienation:

Electronic communication can be of great benefit including text messaging and emails. In the case where a Dad hears the Mother disparaging him to their child or children, a text message can be utilized to document the statement and request an explanation from the Mother. However, the key is reliably consistent documentation of as many alienation attempts as possible as well as the reactions and behavior of the child or children. This can be valuable in a family court when the other party admits behaving in a manner to promote alienation. At the very least it shows the parent who is the victim is taking this seriously.

For the purposes of documentation, social media can be a useful ally when you need to prove parental alienation subject to certain hearsay objections by the other side when seeking to introduce social media exhibits into evidence at trial. In some cases, parents may mention conversations they have had with their child or children on social media platforms. And this may include very disparaging commentary regarding the other parents that is then accepted, and in some cases, repeated by the child or children. Even when there is not a direct link, if the children hold the same opinion, they must have heard the information from somewhere – demonstrating at some point, conversations where one parent disparages the other has taken place.

Although you need to check with an attorney as to the legality of this, a journal kept by a child may contain useful information. Remember children frequently talk with their friends through the same electronic channels’ parents utilize. If one child is telling a friend disparaging remarks about a parent, they had to have formed that view from hearing it or maybe reading it online.

Step 3. Parental Reunification Therapy

The purpose of this therapy is to reunite a child or children with one of their parents in situations where the child or children have been exposed and accepted the words of a parent who has tried to alienate the other parent. The ultimate purpose is the restoration of the child-parent relationship. It may be the case, once an attorney has examined the situation that a reunification therapist may be asked to testify. If it is lawful to do so, this has the potential to provide valuable evidence.

Step 4. – Take the Case To Court

In some cases, litigation is the only way a resolution is going to be obtained. Read on to learn more about the court process.

  • Make a good impression by the alienated parent and/or their lawyer.  It is vitally important the parent who has been the victim can communicate in a clear manner what has transpired and the impact it has had in great detail especially if you can do this when you first meet as it will give the other party a sense of how serious the matter us. Introductory communications should be attention-grabbing and put the other party into a defensive posture. In some circumstances, this may cause the alienation to cease. Undoubtedly, fear is a tool that has great value in these circumstances. Especially when the consequences of their continued behavior may result in the filing of what is known as a request for order – that may result in the loss of custody.
  • We have already covered the importance of gathering documented evidence in court, the lawyer of the parent who has been alienated can use the deposition from the alienating parent and confront the other parent showing the evidence of alienation. They can serve what is called written discovery, these are formal requests for certain information as well as the issuing of subpoenas for records and witnesses.  These are just a few of the many things that can be done. Your attorney will be able to advise on the best strategy for your situation.
  • When the victimized parent is not receiving reunification therapy with their child or children, this can be requested by the attorney. But in some cases, the child or children, especially when they are teenagers may refuse to so. Two options come to mind here, an attempt can be made to talk to the child or children directly or further court order can be sought against the parent imposing the alienation if they are the reason the child or the children will not go or are reluctant to do so. In this situation what is referred to as a minor’s appointed counsel may be of help – they are a lawyer for children.
  • A parent who is suffering from alienation must have what it takes to proceed with a court hearing if it is needed. No one thinks litigation is the ideal solution but following through the process and having the gumption to do so may be the only way to obtain justice and get your kids back in your life. In some circumstances, the only way alienation is going to stop is a court order that takes away the custody of the child or the children from the parent responsible for alienation. Generally, the damage to children is lesser and easier to fix the younger the child or children are.

Source: “How Do You Prove Parental Alienation?: Step by Step Guide.” Farzad Law, https://farzadlaw.com/child-custody/how-do-you-prove-parental-alienation.

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*This information is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

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