Parental Alienation in South Carolina Family Court
Written by: Megan Dell
There are frequently allegations of parental alienation in South Carolina Family Court. It is one of the most complicated concepts to untangle in child custody cases.
Parental alienation is the process by which a child’s relationship with one parent becomes broken, sometimes with the encouragement of the other parent.
Parental Alienation in South Carolina Laws
S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-15-240(B) lists factors the Family Court must consider when determining a child’s best interest. Though parental alienation is not specifically listed, the Family Court is required to consider “the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.” This provision allows allegations of parental alienation to be raised in South Carolina Family Court cases.
The only published South Carolina case that recognizes the dynamic of parental alienation is Noojin v. Noojin, 417 S.C. 300 (Ct. App. 2016). In that case, a mother was held in contempt of court for denying visitation between the children and their father when the children did not want to attend, as the mother did not want to “force” the children to attend.
Spotting Parental Alienation in South Carolina
Making an allegation of parental alienation is not difficult, but it is much harder to accurately identify when alienation is actually occurring. Here are some indicators that a child could be alienated from a parent borrowed from the book “Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems.”
Behaviors by the Child
Demonstrates inconsistency between statements or allegations about the rejected parent and behavior with the rejected parent
Has rigid, one-sided, “all good or all bad” opinion of each parent; idealizes one parent and devalues the other; refuses or is reticent to consider alternate views or explanations about one or both parents
Gives weak, trivial, frivolous, unelaborated, false, and irrational reasons to justify dislike, hatred, resistance, or rejection
Blames rejected parent for the end of the parents’ romantic relationship
Behaviors by the Preferred Parent
Seems humiliated by the end of the parents’ romantic relationship
Bad mouths or denigrates the other parent’s qualities, parenting, or involvement with the child
Acts fearful or suspicious of the other parent in front of the child
Fosters child’s dependency on and need for them to serve as protector from the rejected parent
Minimizes actual and symbolic contact between child and the other parent
Insists that the child has the right to make decisions about contact with the rejected parent; empowers the child by telling them “it’s up to you”
Behaviors by the Alienated Parent
Has lax or intermittently rigid or punitive parenting style
Shows outrage at the child challenging their authority
Is passive or withdraws in the face of conflict
Is immature or self-centered in relation to the child
Loses temper; exhibits angry, demanding, or intimidating character traits, but not to the level of abuse
Loses hope that anything or anyone can change child’s new belief system about him or her
Lacks empathic connection to child
Challenges child’s beliefs or attitudes and tries to convince them otherwise
Resources for Managing Parental Alienation in South Carolina
Our custody attorneys constantly review new materials on how to manage parental alienation. Unfortunately, many of the available resources are expensive treatment programs that are impractical for most families.
If you are dealing with parental alienation in South Carolina Family Court, it is imperative to have a lawyer familiar it like the attorneys of Dell Family Law. Schedule a consultation to find out how you can best litigate a claim of parental alienation.
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