The Nexus of Parental Alienation and Child Abuse/Neglect Allegations

Parental Alienation Has a Significant and Enduring Effect, Leading to Emotional Anguish and Strained Connections Between Children and the Parents Being Targeted

The Nexus of Parental Alienation and Child Abuse/Neglect Allegations in New JerseyDivorce is hard on the entire family, not just the parents. At times, children can be used as bargaining chips, their feelings and concerns held to ransom while their parents play a tug of war to prove which child lofves them most. The potential damage that is done to a child’s emotional and psychological well-being is an atrocity that can only be seen as selfish, short-sighted, and immature, to say the least.

Parental alienation is when a parent sabotages their child’s relationship with their ex-spouse to hurt their ex by manipulating what is said and the circumstances surrounding the child and the alienated parent. Most of the time, the custodial parent engages in this kind of behavior, but that isn’t always the case. If you think your ex is attempting to alienate your child from you, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Parental alienation is an insidious malaise that can destroy families already suffering because of divorce when the custodial parent chooses to use their children to exact revenge on their ex by encouraging them to abandon their relationship emotionally and physically with the other parent. It is considered a form of abuse as it involves the manipulation of a child’s emotions by asking them to choose a side in what is a ridiculous vendetta meant to strike at the heart of the other parent without any regard for how the child is negatively affected. It is a selfish, heartless, immature form of abuse that can leave emotional scars that are impossible to erase and permanently destroy the child’s relationship with their parents.

Multifaceted Forms of Abuse in Cases of NJ Parental Alienation

There are many examples of abuse suffered by children in a situation of parental alienation. The custodial parent creates fear by telling the child the parent whom they have loved and trusted could harm them. When the custodial parent withholds affection because the child speaks kindly of the other parent or provides a false narrative by distorting the details of pleasant memories with the other parent or lying about missing their visitation on purpose because they no longer want to be with the child. Obligating the child to throw away gifts, clothing, or reminders of the parent, such as photos, voicemail messages, or home videos on their phone, is hurtful to a child. Interrogating the child after every visit with the non-custodial parent as if they were a spy and asking them to repeat everything done and said during the visit puts tremendous pressure on them.

When the custodial parent places their needs above their child’s need to be loved by both parents, it is emotional neglect. Asking the child to feign illnesses or bear witness to non-existent abusive behavior on the part of the non-custodial parent is harmful. Taking the child to therapy with the excuse that the child needs to work through all of the problems consistently caused by the non-custodial parent results in a revolving door of therapists as each one eventually realizes the true motives of the custodial parent. Neglect is also isolating the child from friends and classmates who may ask them why they have such strong feelings about their parents when they have seen nothing to support that version. When the custodial parent becomes the only person the child can talk with, play with, or rely on, the parent’s ability to manipulate them augments significantly.

Breaking Down the Three Categories of NJ Parental Alienation

Naïve Alienation

The first is naïve alienation, it occurs when the alienating parent uses passive-aggressive comments about the other parent to the child. For example, the alienating parent might say, “Your mother will have to buy your new shoes because she doesn’t pay me what I need to buy them for you.”  Speaking ill of the other parent with comments such as,” You know, now that your father is married again, he’ll want to spend more time with his new family than with you.” Insinuating that the other parent’s decision to move on to another relationship will change their current relationship with their biological child. Perhaps the alienating parent doesn’t share the child’s extracurricular activities calendar or parent night at school. The alienated parent doesn’t attend because they are unaware of the events, while the child feels their absence was a conscious choice and resents them for it.

Active Alienation

The second category of alienation is active alienation. An example of alienating behavior is when the alienating parent listens to phone calls and reads texts or emails between the child and the parent. Also, when the alienator interrogates the child after the visit about everything that was done and says if there was someone else there, financial information, and other details, a child should not be bothered to know. Also, encouraging secrets and coded language between the child and the alienator to keep the relationship closer than with the other parent. Another example is when the alienator treats the child as an adult, discussing past marital issues, present financial problems, and other adult issues.

Obsessive Alienation

Defense Attorneys Handling Abuse Claims in Parental Alienation Cases in NJThe third category is obsessive alienation. This is the alienator’s attempt (or multiple attempts) to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent. For example, they are allowing the child to choose the custody visits. When the parent says they have to work or is busy because that day wasn’t on the schedule, the custodial parent will suggest that the alienated parent didn’t want to hang out with the child. Other times a parent will ask outright,” Who do you love the most?”  This question is impossible to answer correctly and can leave the child confused. They are also attempting to replace the missing parent with someone else, asking the child to refer to them as Mom or Dad before they feel comfortable doing so.

Correlation Between Parental Alienation and Mental Health Challenges in Children

Parental alienation can cause emotional and psychological damage. It can cause low self-esteem, feeling unloved, guilt, anxiety, self-hatred, and self-harm. Substance abuse disorders, mental illness, depression, a lack of empathy, and poor interpersonal skills are the damage parental alienation can cause. Poor academic performance, authority defiance disorders, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia are the unfortunate results of this kind of neglect.

How Family Court Judges Assess Parental Alienation Cases

When the court finds that a parent is purposefully damaging the reputation of the other parent and abuses their character in such a way as to misrepresent the non-custodial parent as a danger to the child, custody modifications may be made. These modifications can be a change in legal or full custody, supervised visits between the offending parent and child, or suspending visitation until fallout can be assessed. When all of the facts are presented, and the judge takes the child’s best interests in mind to make a decision, a custody hearing is held.

A family court judge is familiar with the tactics used by parents who alienate their children from their father or mother. They consider testimony from experts, family members, teachers, and others who observe the child’s behavior. A parental alienation case is similar to a jigsaw puzzle; the big picture is revealed once the pieces are put into place.

DCPP Involvement for Parental Alienation in New JerseyDCP&P’s Involvement in Parental Alienation and Abuse Cases

DCP&P’s purpose is to protect children from abuse and neglect. They prefer to work with the parents and have them make the necessary changes rather than removing the children and placing them in foster homes. The DCP&P’s standard practice is to create a safety plan with requirements from both parents, which can include therapy, parenting classes, and other resources. If the situation does not improve within a certain timeframe, the custody of the children may be reassessed.

Call our Defense Attorneys for Parental Alienation Accusations in NJ

If you have been accused of parental alienation by your child’s other parent and DCPP has gotten involved, your next step should be to hire an attorney. Not all judges agree with the concept of parental alienation, but with the proper evidence and presentation, a picture can be brought to light in a crystal clear way. This may cause permanent repercussions for you and your children. A knowledgeable DCPP lawyer at our firm is precisely what you need to help your family in Paramus, Fort Lee, Clifton, South Brunswick, Warren, Millburn, Bergen County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and the entire state of New Jersey. Contact us today at (908)-356-6900 or online for a free, confidential consultation to analyze your case.

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