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Child custody disputes: domestic violence or parental alienation?

by | Aug 19, 2015 | Child Custody, Firm News |

Children are often caught in the crossfire of an acrimonious divorce. It can be very difficult to determine how they might feel about their parents when there are so many arguments flying back and forth. Disagreements over child custody can either mask or reveal elements of behavior that may be attributable to parental alienation or worse — to domestic violence. A recent out-of-state case that highlights such issues may be of interest to California residents.

The children have allegedly refused to see their father because they claim to be afraid of him. Over a number of years, many incidents of domestic violence have been documented against the father; however, the judge is claiming that this is a case of parental alienation, and he has ordered that the children take part in reunification therapy with their father. In addition, the judge has granted the father sole custody for a period of 90 days.

While there is no specific criteria for parental alienation, there are several indicators that may cause one to consider the possibility. Refusal to see or have contact with one parent can sometimes indicate that the other parent has used manipulative tactics upon the child or children. This on its own may not necessarily be enough: a child may say things that are out of character and context, for example, that the non-custodial parent does not give the custodial parent enough money. Other criticisms may relate to habits or lifestyle choices that sound more likely to have come from the custodial parent rather than being opinions of the child.

The courts will take any relevant information into account when making decisions about child custody. Whether one’s concerns relate to parental alienation or domestic violence, it is important to gather together as much evidence as possible to support one’s case. Seeking the advice appropriate to one’s circumstances will give California residents the best hope to seek what is in the best interest of the child.

Source:, “Michigan Judge Gorcyca sends children to father they fear“, Michael Volpe, Aug. 13, 2015


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