Sometimes in a high-conflict custody battle, one parent will make a false accusation of parental alienation. This may be an attempt to make make the other parent look “bad” or to make themselves appear “good”. It may be an act of revenge to destroy their ex by using the child as a pawn. Sometimes it is a foil to get the attention off of their own nasty behaviour which is causing their child to take some distance from them. This can be emotionally and financially exhausting for the parent fielding these nonsensical allegations.
So, how can we demonstrate to the court real versus false allegations of estrangement? In theory, we need to defeat these allegations by providing hard evidence that the accusation is bogus.
A child is not alienated when they can continue to see a parent physically, and via any other medium such as Skype or facetime. Keep records of every access visit facilitated, even if it was not exercised. This includes access in person, via skype, facetime or phone calls. I have my clients use a simple spreadsheet to log this information. The columns can show requested or ordered access, access that was exercised, events during access, demeanour of child after access, and evidence. The evidence would be texts or emails outlining the access arrangements and can be either directly attached to the document or more easily numbered and kept as a separate document. I have each month on a separate document. Please see below an example of such a spreadsheet:
Finding the right Custody Assessor
Learning to discern a real case of parental alienation from an alleged one is a core skill for a savvy practitioner. If you have been ordered to undergo a custody assessment, make sure you work with someone who has a focus on the children, not the parents. Do your research and really ask your lawyer, your therapist, and your divorce coach who can be most trusted for the job. They should be able to see if the child displays any diagnostic indicators of attachment-based parental alienation, and also diagnose narcissistic or borderline traits in the parent making false allegations of alienation.
As I have blogged before, I cannot stress the importance of documenting events during your separation and divorce. This hard work will pay off if you are on the receiving end of false allegations.