If you were in an unhappy marriage, no one needs to tell you that dealing with a soon-to-be ex-spouse can be challenging. After all, you likely have some anger, resentment and other negative emotions. Still, if you make disparaging comments about your partner to your children, you may inadvertently complicate your custody case.
Parental alienation syndrome sometimes afflicts children during custody battles. This condition happens when one parent uses mental or emotional manipulation to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with his or her children. In Texas, parental alienation may run counter to the best interests of the kids.
The best interests standard
When settling custody disputes, Texas judges must consider the best interests of the children. While judges weigh nine separate factors, the emotional needs of the kids tend to be paramount. If you are manipulating your children to encourage them to prefer you over your spouse, a judge may find that awarding custody to you is not in the best interests of your children.
Because any custody dispute can foster raw emotions, a single or off-handed comment is probably insufficient to constitute parental alienation. Nevertheless, if you engage in any of the following behaviors, a judge may determine that you are attempting to turn your kids against their other parent:
- Making false claims of child abuse or domestic violence
- Telling your children that their other parent does not love them
- Excluding your spouse from important activities
- Asking your kids to spy on their other parent
If either you or your partner alleges parental alienation, a judge may intervene. He or she may appoint a legal representative to advocate for the kids. Alternatively, the judge may order an independent evaluation of the living situation.
Even though you may have strong feelings toward your partner, you do not want to do anything that jeopardizes your ability to parent your children. By understanding parental alienation, you can avoid it altogether.