Parental Alienation: When a Parent Turns a Child Against Another Parent

 Posted on May 12, 2023 in Family Law

St. Charles Child Custody LawyerThe end of a relationship or marriage often brings out the worst sides of people. Sadly, children from the relationship often get caught in the middle. Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse in which a parent intentionally turns his or her child against the other parent. The parent may tell the child lies about the other parent, punish the child for showing love or affection toward the other parent, or refuse to let the other parent spend time with the child.

Illinois courts do not specifically use the term “parental alienation” when referring to this type of behavior. However, a parent’s behavior toward their child can certainly affect the court’s decision regarding child custody issues, including the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Parents Are Expected to Foster a Positive Relationship Between the Child and the Other Parent

As we have discussed several times in previous blogs, Illinois courts always want to do what is best for the children in any child-related family law dispute. When a parent engages in a campaign of denigration against the targeted parent, this can be extremely damaging to the child. The child may feel confused, guilty, angry, and depressed. Using a child as a pawn to get back at the other parent is extremely harmful and unethical.

Furthermore, Illinois law specifically states that one of the factors considered in child custody cases is each parent’s willingness to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent. If a parent seeks to damage the parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, this will be factored into the court’s decision regarding temporary allocation orders and child custody decisions.

Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interests

Custody disputes involving allegations of parental alienation are often he-said, she-said situations. The court may not know whom to believe. In cases like these, a neutral third party, such as a guardian ad litem, may be assigned to the case.

The guardian ad litem (GAL) will interview each parent, child, and other individuals involved in the child's life, such as caretakers or child therapists. The GAL will observe the interactions between the child and the parents, noting any unusual behavior or red flags. He or she may also review the child’s medical records, school reports, and other documents to get a clear picture of the child’s mental and physical health. All of this information is used by the GAL to form a professional opinion about the case and submit this opinion to the court.

Contact our Kane County Child Custody Lawyers

Disputes regarding parenting time, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parental relocations, and other child-related issues can be intense. Fortunately, you do not have to handle this difficult situation alone. Let our Kane County family law attorneys provide the skilled legal representation you and your child deserve. Call 630-584-4800 for a free initial consultation. 





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