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Child custody: Intervention is possible for parental alienation

On occasion, some divorced parents in Ohio and elsewhere seek to alienate their children from the other parent. This can occur with teenage children who are easily influenced and susceptible to coaxing by a vindictive parent. These parents sometimes convince themselves that they are not violating child custody orders, but only allowing the children to choose whether they want to see the other parent.

A custody order cannot be ignored. In general, judges will not tolerate parental alienation. In one case in another state, a mother received a suspended jail sentence for intentionally abrogating her custodial obligations by placing the children in the middle of her fight with their father by allowing them to choose when to see their father. Another mother failed to comply with a court order to facilitate psychological counseling for the child, and she was also given a suspended sentence with certain opportunities to avoid the sentence.

A third mother was found guilty of willfully alienating a 15-year old child from her father. In that case, child custody was stripped from the mother and awarded to the father. It has been proved that children benefit from having contact with both parents, and severe cases of parental alienation can be classified as psychological child abuse. In such cases, it may be in the best interest of the children to remove them from the abuser's custody.

Ohio parents who are having problems seeing their children as provided by a child custody order may find comfort in learning that intervention in parental alienation is possible. To protect the children, it may be advisable for action to be taken as soon as such behavior becomes evident. With the support of an experienced family law attorney, it may be possible to get the court to admonish the violating parent to respect the other parent's wish to maintain a loving relationship with the child.

Source:, "James Bocott and Dr. William Bernet: 'Parental alienation' not tolerated", Sept. 1, 2016

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