Parental Alienation in Florida
“Parental Alienation” occurs when one parent provides erroneous information to the child resulting in the unwanted rejection of the other parent. Parental Alienation is considered by many to be form of child abuse. Below is a summary of perspectives collected from Florida case law regarding Parental Alienation:
Instances in Florida courts have not found the existence of Parental Alienation include:
• Where a parent detailed communication issues, cooperation issues and referenced events between the parents that indicated a “rancorous” and “hostile” relationship between the two.
• Where the only evidence presented to the Court was that the parent’s eldest child had a vast amount of influence over her younger siblings which was detrimental to the younger children’s relationship with their father. However, there was no evidence that the mother encouraged the older child’s behavior.
• Where the child’s testimony did not corroborate the Father’s claims of alienation.
• When the custodial parent does not keep the other parent apprised of a child’s activities when the other parent has the ability to keep themselves informed.
Instances where Florida courts have made findings that Parental Alienation exists include:
• Where the alienating parent was found to have made consistent degrading and obscene comments about the other parents in the children’s presence.
• Where the alienating parent makes derogatory comments about the children’s half-sibling.
• Where the alienating parent promised the children that they could attend an expensive private school which the alienating parent had no ability to pay for, and blames the non-alienating parent for not having the ability to afford it.
• Where the alienating parent has faked an injury of domestic violence.
• Where the custodial parent refuses to affirmatively encourage the relationship between the children and non-custodial parent..
Florida courts have taken a variety of measures to address those instances where Parental Alienation has occurred. Those measures include:
• Complete restriction of the alienating parent’s contact with the child until the child becomes “stable” with the non-alienating parent.
• No contact order between the child and the alienating parent’s current spouse.
• Therapy for the child.
• Reunification plan.
• Awarding sole parental responsibility to the non-alienating parent.
• Modifying the parties’ time sharing schedule.
• Order that an expert evaluate the child or children.
• Order an investigation to be conducted by the Department of Children and Families.
• Place the child or children in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and ordering a shelter hearing.
• Ordering the opening of a Dependency action.
• Appointing a Guardian ad Litem.
• Ordering family therapy.
• Grant the non-alienating parent “ultimate decision-making authority” over the child or children.
• Appoint a forensic examiner to evaluate the child.
• Appoint a parenting coordinator.
• Requiring the alienating parent to attend a parental alienation counseling program.
It is important to retain the services of an attorney who is experienced with Parental Alienation to help you identify its existence, navigate the myriad of situations that arise therefrom, and determine what options are best to address your particular situation.