When you divorce, your children are likely your highest priority. Setting up a custody and parenting time plan that will benefit your children is one of your primary concerns. You may be completely taken by surprise if your spouse cuts you out of your children’s lives or turns your children against you. It happens more frequently than you think.
Parental alienation is the term used to describe a situation in which one parent refuses to allow the other parent to see, talk to, or spend time with the child. Signs of parental alienation also include turning a child against the other parent so that the child comes to believe he or she does not want contact with that parent—in essence gradually brainwashing a child against a parent. Parental alienation is a painful situation and one that can be difficult to combat.
Keeping a child from spending time with or having a relationship with the other parent is damaging to the child. It is not only manipulative, but it is cruel and has long-ranging damaging implications for the child. Fortunately, New Jersey courts do recognize the issue of parental alienation. Your attorney can gather and present evidence to the court that proves your ex has poisoned your child against you or kept your child from having a healthy relationship with you. In some cases, proof of parental alienation can be grounds for a change in custody.
An even worse nightmare is having your child abducted by the other parent. But there are ways to protect your child if you’re worried about parental abduction. Here’s what you need to know about child abduction prevention:
- Control the passport
If your child has a passport, gain control over the possession of the passport to prevent the other parent from taking the child out of the U.S. If your child does not have a passport and you have joint custody, both parents have to legally sign when applying for it. A parent with sole custody can apply for a passport alone, but then you would want to make sure there is a passport alert in place (see below). Keeping the passport safe will prevent out-of-the-country abductions. Your attorney can seek a court order that will hold the passport in the possession of the court or with your attorney. Once your child has a passport, he or she cannot leave the country without it.
- Passport alerts
If your child does not have a passport, you can sign up with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert System, which will notify you if a passport is applied for in your child’s name. Both custodial and noncustodial parents can sign up for this service, and it’s a great way to be alerted about potential parental abductions.
- Other protections
Another important step you can take is to ask that the Hague Convention abduction language be included in your custody order and that all international travel must be court-approved. Your attorney will know how to word this in your divorce agreement. You can also ask that your ex be required to post a bond if he or she wishes to take your child out of the country.
If you believe your ex is trying to turn your child against you, is denying you contact with your child, or is capable of abducting your children, call DeTorres & DeGeorge for cutting-edge legal advice and representation.