February 6, 2020

How Parental Alienation Claims Affect Custody Outcomes

Michigan parents who are negotiating child custody might have to deal with a challenge if one of the parents claims parental alienation. While experts question its credibility, parental alienation is still being used and accepted in courts and can significantly impact the outcome of a child custody dispute.

While most parents have the best interests of the child in mind when they discuss custody issues, the relationship between the parents might also affect how they proceed raising their children after they split up. Parental alienation is a claim that sometimes comes up, particularly in cases where one parent alleges abuse and the other parent responds by claiming parental alienation.

The concept of parental alienation originated in the 1980s based on the work of a child psychologist, who used it to explain the many allegations of child sexual abuse in custody cases. According to the psychologist, these types of allegations came from mothers who wanted revenge against the fathers. Researchers, however, have discredited the theory, explaining that it was based on unsubstantiated claims and had no science behind it.

However, one study funded by the Department of Justice found that parental alienation claims still led to a child being removed from the parent, particularly when fathers claimed it against the mother whether the mother had claimed abuse or not. This happened 44% of the time in the study. In the reverse, fathers only lost their children 28% when it was the mothers who claimed parental alienation. Even more surprising, when abuse by a father was proven, if fathers claimed parental alienation, mothers still lost custody 13% of the time.

Child custody issues can be complex, and parents going through this might consider speaking with a family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to offer legal representation and provide advice about options for the family.