One thing that New Jersey courts will look at when making custody determinations, or in modifications of custody or visitation, is the relationship that each parent fosters toward the other parent. In other words, courts want to see that mom is supporting dad and vice versa, and that neither are disparaging the other in front of the kids.

Disparagement Happens

Harmonious co-parenting is an ideal that is not always followed by parents in the real world. Not only can being bad-mouthed by mom or dad be devastating and emotionally traumatizing to the kids, but it can also be devastating to the parent whose name is being dragged through the mud.

How do you know when your child’s other parent is saying something about you that is negative or derogatory? There is not any hard and fast way to tell. But there are some good indicators.

  • The child acts as if only one parent is in charge – children who have been brainwashed by another parent often will blindly follow that parent’s advice, and blindly ignore your advice—even when the child is staying at your home. If you get the sense that your child thinks the other parent is in charge, even when the child is with you, this may be cause for concern
  • The child ignores good experiences with you—children who are being strongly influenced by a disparaging parent, may ignore good times with the other parent—minimizing fun experiences, or failing to recall or retell positive experiences with the other parent.
  • They do not want to visit – Certainly, all kids at some point will resist the normal custody schedule or resist scheduled visitation or complain about going to the other parent’s home. But kids who chronically do this or who make up excuses why going to your house may be inconvenient or difficult, may be being influenced by the other parent
  • They mimic the other parent – If your child’s parent is verbally abusive or hostile to you, you likely recognize words, phrases, and speech patterns that the other parent uses. When your child starts using similar words or phrases, or making similar complaints or insults, it is an indication that he or she is hearing things from the other parent about you.
  • Withdrawing from your life – If your child does not seem interested in, or loses interest in, your circle of friends and family, or the child’s own friends or family that he or she sees when with you, it could be a sign that the other parent is alienating your child.

Parental alienation is serious, and courts do not look kindly on it. Any alienation that you suspect is happening should be documented, and any written proof saved. Remember that in most cases, the child cannot testify in court as to alienation, so it is up to you to document what is happening, and to document the instances when you think you are being disparaged by the other parent.

Contact our New Jersey Divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC to help you with any child custody or visitation problems that you may have.


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The Law Office of Agnes Rybar, LLC, in Toms River, New Jersey, serves clients throughout Ocean County, Monmouth County and elsewhere in South Jersey and along the Jersey Shore, including many in Forked River, Brick and Lakewood.

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