Parental Alienation in Illinois Custody and Divorce Cases

Parental Alienation is a situation that is often created in custody and divorce cases when one parent (or other individual) attempts to destroy the relationship between a child and the other parent.  Illinois law quite correctly sees such improper action on the part of a parent, grandparent, or other person as seriously damaging to the child, and the Illinois court system can address the situation.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation involves a child who has been driven away from one parent by the actions of the other parent, or someone acting on behalf of that other parent.  For example, the mother may make disparaging remarks about the father such that the child internalizes the statements and then does the same to the father, or perhaps goes further and refuses to have a relationship with the father.  As another example, the father’s mother may take action to make the child believe the mother doesn’t really love the child, thereby destroying that mother-child relationship.

Whether or not “Parental Alienation Syndrome” is an actual medical disorder is a matter debated by those in the psychiatric and psychological  communities, but that medical distinction does not really concern us in the legal system as the effects are quite real and problematic, and as such the court in Illinois can and do properly address parental alienation.  Indeed, to use another analogy, just because the court may not see a failure to pay child support or the neglect of a child as part of a “syndrome,” it does not mean that the court will not address the matter.

See also  New Custody (Parental Decision-Making) and Visitation (Parenting Time) Terminology in Illinois Divorce and Child Custody Cases

Illinois circuit courts and the Illinois appellate courts have rendered a great many decisions in which they found that a child was the victim of parental alienation and took steps (e.g. a custody change) to correct the situation.  Examples include In re Marriage of Divelbiss, 308 Ill.App.3d 198, 719 N.E.2d 375, 241 Ill.Dec. 514 (Ill.App. 2 Dist. 1999) and in re Marriage of Bates, 212 Ill.2d 489, 819 N.E.2d 714 (2004).

Dealing with Parental Alienation in Illinois

A parent whose child is suffering from parental alienation in Illinois faces an already unpleasant situation that must be handled properly.  Solving that problem of parental alienation involves obtaining the necessary evidence to properly present the issue to the court in a persuasive manner, as parental alienation is something that must be proven – not just claimed.  For that reason, such a parent is wise to consult with a divorce or custody attorney at once.