The theory of parental alienation has been making an appearance in some Virginia child custody and visitation cases. It is highly controversial, however, l and is not fully accepted by the medical or psychological communities as being a true disorder.
Parental alienation is the idea that a parent can brainwash a child into withdrawing from and disliking the other parent. In severe cases, it is thought that parents may be able to manipulate their children to such an extent that the children will make false allegations of abuse against the alienated parent. Family courts have been reacting to this theory by sometimes removing children from the care of parents who claim that the other parents are abusive.
The risk of courts believing that parents who claim the other parents are abusive are simply alienating their children is that children may then be placed in the homes of parents who abuse them. It can be difficult for courts to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth when claims of abuse are made. When a parent believes the other is abusive, it is important that he or she is able to present definitive evidence in court proving the allegation.
A child custody dispute often involves a high degree of emotional conflict that spills over into the courtroom. A parent who strongly believes that their child’s other parent has been abusive may want to seek help from a family law attorney. Legal counsel can present information to the court about how controversial parental alienation is and the fact that it is not generally accepted as being a real disorder by doctors and psychologists.