Is Parental Alienation a Crime in Florida?
Going through a divorce or separation can be difficult and emotional. This is often made even more complex if the separating couple has a shared child or children. When children are part of the family, the couple needs to make a decision about with whom the child will live, how time with the child will be shared, and who will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s life. When the parties have negative feelings toward each other, one parent may–perhaps unconsciously–try to turn the child against the other parent. This is called parental alienation.
Parental alienation involves one parent trying to turn a child against the other parent. This might include the parent bad-mouthing the other parent, denying visitation with the other parent, blaming the parent for unhappiness and other problems, and more. Sometimes, this happens without intention of damaging the relationship between the other parent and the child. Either way, it can result in parental alienation syndrome. Parental alienation syndrome has been called severe psychological abuse and often results in the child showing fear, disrespect, dislike, anger, and hostility toward the other parent. Another symptom is a lack of attachment between the parent and the child.
While parental alienation is not specifically listed in Florida’s criminal code and does not typically result in criminal penalties (of course, a parent could hypothetically be charged with child abuse in extreme cases of parental alienation), it could affect a court’s decision regarding custody. A court may consider any evidence of parental alienation when making a decision about time-sharing, and the symptoms of parental alienation may be enough to warrant a modification of a child support order in some cases. The court is looking to award custody to a parent who is willing to maintain and foster a loving relationship between the other parent and the child; when a parent is unwilling to do this, this can negatively affect his or her ability to be awarded custody of the child.
Parental alienation can be difficult to prove. In fact, often times these court battles involve one party making one claim, the other making another, and a lack of any real evidence. In some cases, the child is the only one who really knows what happened, yet courts are usually hesitant to involve a child in litigation. If you believe that parental alienation is occurring and want to petition the court for custody or visitation with your child, being able to provide solid and indisputable evidence can be helpful. You should consult with an attorney to learn more about what types of evidence can bolster your case when seeking custody of or visitation with your child.
At the Law Offices of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., our experienced Florida family law attorneys know how difficult instances of parental alienation can be to manage. If you believe that your ex is engaging in parental alienation and attempting to turn your child against you, do not hesitate to take action. Call our law firm today to learn how we can help.