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Parental Alienation In Florida Child Custody Cases

Parental alienation is a process of emotional manipulation by which a child is turned against one of their parents. Parental alienation is emotional abuse, it often has a major negative impact on the well being of the affected child. It also has a deep impact on the victimized parent. Parental alienation most frequently occurs during divorce or separation. If you have been the victim of parental alienation, please contact an experienced Orlando child custody attorney to learn how to protect your rights.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is often insidious, it can take a number of different forms. You may be the victim of parental alienation if the child’s other parent has done any of the following:

  • Made disrespectful or disparaging comments about you to your child;
  • Consistently failed to comply with a valid child time sharing agreement;
  • Used your child as a messenger to communicate negative information to you;
  • Made your child feel guilty about interacting with you; or
  • Made false claims that suggest you have been abusive.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of alienating behaviors. The other parent is not allowed to manipulate your child against you. In Florida, any behavior that can be viewed as intentionally manufactured to hurt a child’s relationship with the other parent can be deemed alienation. Florida courts will view the parent that avoids disparaging the other parent much more favorably when considering fair child custody and time sharing orders. Ultimately, Florida uses the ‘best interest of the child’ standard. Determining which parent will foster positive relationships is a significant factor in applying that standard.

Modification of Child Custody or Child Time Sharing Agreements

Under Florida law, you can only modify a child custody or child time sharing agreement if there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances. Florida courts have consistently held that parental alienation is deeply damaging to the child, and can represent sufficient cause to modify a child custody arrangement or child time sharing plan. The Florida case Wade v. Hirshman provides the quintessential example of the impact of parental alienation on a child custody modification. In that case, the court found that the child’s mother made a concerted effort to push the child away from the father. The mother failed to comply with agreed upon time sharing plans and repeatedly made major life decisions for the child without consulting the father. This had the effect of seriously isolating the father from his child. The court found that the intentional alienation of the father was a substantial and material change in circumstances. That opened up the possibility for a modification of the child custody order. Further, the court concluded that parental alienation seriously damaged the well being of the child. Therefore, the father was eventually awarded custody of the child. Parental alienation can be good cause for modification, but these case are always very fact specific. An experienced child custody attorney should always comprehensively review your individual case.

Contact An Experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney

Parental alienation will damage your relationship with your child. Both you, and your child, deserve better. At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. our experienced Florida child custody legal team can help protect your rights. If you have been the victim of parental alienation, please contact our Orlando office as soon as possible.

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