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How parental alienation can affect a California custody order

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Child Custody

Parents who divorce or separate generally negotiate custody arrangements. If they cannot reach terms amicably with one another, then they can ask a family law judge to review their situation. A custody order typically describes a specific breakdown of parenting time and also divides the authority to make decisions about a child’s upbringing.

In most cases, parents who share custody in California have to find a way to cooperate with one another and uphold the terms of a custody order. Yet, in some scenarios, one parent may find that the other refuses to comply with their custody order. Someone who is still upset about the end of a marriage or romantic relationship may try to interfere in the relationship the other parent has with the children. They may go so far as to engage in parental alienation.

What constitutes parental alienation?

One parent’s attempt to negatively affect the other’s relationship with their shared children might entail refusing to let the children spend time with their other parents in accordance with a custody order. One parent may turn the other away when they show up for parenting time. They might intentionally make plans that cut someone’s time with the children short.

Other times, they may interfere with communication attempts by intercepting phone calls and emails. Parental alienation can also involve talking negatively about one parent to the children to alter how the children perceive that parent.

The courts frown on alienation attempts

Someone attempting to co-parent with an individual who badmouths them or tries to reduce their parenting time might worry about the long-term implications of alienation attempts on their relationship with the children and even the children’s mental health.

Thankfully, the California courts are aware that some parents put their personal wishes ahead of what is best for their children. If one parent has evidence of attempts at alienation including details about negative statements made by one parent and parenting time violations, they can potentially take the matter back to family court.

Someone could ask for custody enforcement when they have not received an appropriate amount of time with their children or cannot communicate with them. The courts may grant someone make-up parenting time and may require that the other do better to facilitate their time and communication with the children.

Other times, evidence of parental alienation could justify a request to modify a custody order. A judge might increase someone’s time with the children and their legal authority after their co-parent intentionally interferes in their relationship with their children.

Those seeking the enforcement or modification of a custody order because of parental alienation generally need evidence and support as they navigate this potentially emotional issue. Understanding that parents can fight back against alienation efforts may benefit those worried about preserving the bond they have with their children.