Even after a divorce, it is important for parents to maintain their relationships with their children. This usually means that there is still contact with the other parent–even if it is hostile in nature. Sometimes, the relationship between former spouses is so hostile that one spouse will attempt to turn a child against the other spouse in an effort to retaliate against them or get revenge.
In addition to being extremely damaging to the psychological well-being of a child, parental alienation is painful and confusing for the parent towards whom the alienating behavior is directed. A previously happy and content child may suddenly become withdrawn or angry and begin repeating ugly language they learned from the alienating parent.
Although Illinois law conspicuously rejects the term “parental alienation syndrome,” due to its lack of specificity, the law instead has a host of procedures and statutes to inhibit what might be considered parental alienation.
Temporary Parenting Time
If a child’s opinion of one parent is being negatively influenced by the other parent while a divorce or allocation of parental responsibilities is pending, Illinois law provides an opportunity for redress by allowing for a temporary order for parenting time allocation. If a parent has evidence that their child is being fed false or manipulative information about them, they may bring this to the court’s attention and ask for temporary limitations on the other parent’s time with the child.
As with a regular parenting time order, an Illinois court will issue a temporary parenting time order if it finds this is in the child’s best interests. If at all possible, judges want to see children have positive relationships with both parents. If a parent’s relationship with their child is being jeopardized by alienating rhetoric from the other parent, a judge will take this into consideration.
Joint Creation of Parenting Plans
Another way Illinois law has tried to prevent alienating behavior is by tasking parents with jointly creating parenting plans during a divorce. Parties who work together to create a system of parental responsibility are more likely to stick to the plan and avoid future hostilities.
However, divorcing spouses can also submit parenting plans without the input of the other parent. If one parent tries to submit a parenting plan that includes little or no parenting time for the other parent, this can be a sign that alienating behavior is occurring from the beginning.
If a parent believes their former spouse is trying to alienate their child from them, but cannot provide evidence beyond merely “he said, she said” claims, a judge may struggle to get an objective picture of the child’s true home situation with either parent. In situations like this, a custody evaluator or a guardian ad litem may be appointed to gather information and give the judge an impartial assessment of what is in the child’s best interests.
Contact a Kane County Child Custody Attorney Today
If you fear that your child is facing alienating behaviors from your former partner, the attorneys at Goostree Law Group can help you determine whether such behaviors are taking place and what you can do about it. To schedule a free consultation and discuss your situation with a skilled St. Charles, IL parental responsibilities lawyer, contact our office today at 630-584-4800.