Parental Alienation – A Basis for Modification of Parenting Time or Custody

Parental alienation, or the straining or undermining of one parent’s relationship with the child intentionally by the other parent has become a term used in family law cases more and more frequently. Therapists, guardians, parents and lawyers have seen the grave effects that it has on children, as they are separated from one parent by the conduct of the other parent. Sometimes the alienation is subtle, parents making it difficult for the other parent to have regular contact, and in some cases, it is more extreme, where one parent moves away or otherwise restricts time spent with the other parent.

Minnesota Statute §518.18(D)(IV) makes the endangerment standard the basis for a modification of a custody order that is in place. The access and custody schedule remains unchanged when there is a motion before the court unless one parent can establish a prima facie case for modification. Some cases warrant just a change in parenting time or a changing of a custody label. In other cases, the offending parent who deprives the other parent of their rights by concealing a child or otherwise not following custody order could be charged with a felony. Minnesota Statute §609.26.

In a recent Court case, the Court found that parental alienation, if established in one’s pleadings, can be a prima facie case for modification and a basis for an evidentiary hearing. This case will help family law practitioners gain access to relief sought in cases where children are the unlucky victims of one parents dislike for the other parent. Once a Court order is issued, the Court expects that it will be followed and having one parent deprive another of their rights is a basis for the Courts to take a look at what schedule and custody label is appropriate going forward if one parent doesn’t recognize that a child deserves to have both of their parents in their lives.

If you have concerns about parental alienation or any issues that would rise to the level of a need for the Court to make a decision other than what is in your current custody order, please contact us at 651.439.2878 to schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.

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