Parental Alienation and Child Custody in TennesseeSometimes, when parents get divorced, they become a bit competitive for the child’s affections. One parent may allow the child to get away with breaking rules. The other parent may attempt to buy the child’s affection. We caution our clients against this type of behavior, but we know that in some cases, it’s inevitable.

There are times, though, when the competition moves from being a misguided attempt to help your kids, and becomes a terrible attempt to ruin their relationships with the other parent. In short, the parent tries to alienate their children against the other parent.

Parental alienation defined

Parental alienation is a manipulative process in which one parent tries to turn a child against another parent. It’s a form of mental pressure or abuse which affects both the other parent and the child. Some examples of parental alienation include:

  • Talking negatively about the other parent and making disparaging remarks about the other parent
  • Making a child feel guilty for spending too much time with the other parent
  • Claiming that the other parent has been abusive knowing the claims to be untrue
  • Failing to comply with the requirements in a parental plan to transport the child to the other parent or to comply with the right of the alternate resident parent to have custody of the child during the scheduled days/nights.

Parental alienation may also be a factor in modifying a custody dispute. Often parents get along once a parenting plan is reached, but, in time, one parent may seek to control the relationship by turning the child against the other parent. The innocent parent has the right to seek a change in the custody order if one parent is alienating their child against the innocent parent.

Key custody factors

In Tennessee, the family court always decides custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. Custody includes legal custody and physical custody. A parenting plan is created to detail the custody arrangements and the long-term and daily decision-making processes. The parenting plan covers what is commonly called visitation – by detailing where the child will be on a daily and nightly basis.

In deciding legal and physical custody, courts also examine 15 different factors. A few of the factors that are relevant to the issues of parental alienation are:

  • “The willingness and ability of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child’s parents, consistent with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider the likelihood of each parent and caregiver to honor and facilitate court ordered parenting arrangements and rights, and the court shall further consider any history of either parent or any caregiver denying parenting time to either parent in violation of a court order.”
  • The child’s relationships with other family members and mentors
  • The “character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person’s interactions with the child”

The child’s preferences are, with some exceptions, generally considered only if the child is 12 years of age or older.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we understand the stresses and difficulties that divorce places on parents and children. We understand how courts and mediators view disputes. We also work with psychologists and counselors when needed. We’ll fight to do what’s best for you and your family. For help with all phases of a divorce or separation including custody disputes and custody modifications, please call us. We represent parents in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood. You can schedule an appointment by phoning 615-977-9370 or completing our contact form.