Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Rockland & Westchester County Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Family > What is Parental Alienation and How Do I Prove It in New York State?

What is Parental Alienation and How Do I Prove It in New York State?


When deciding a custody arrangement, New York courts will consider the best interests of the child. The courts presume that it is always in the child’s best interests to have both parents play an active role in their life. The court must find a good reason such as abuse, neglect, or substance abuse issues to deny a parent visitation rights to their child. In some cases, however, a parent may hold a grudge against the other parent and use the children as a weapon to cause emotional damage. The courts recognize this as parental alienation and will consider it a black mark against the parent who is attempting to turn the children against the other parent. In this article, the Rockland County child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine will discuss parental alienation, how the court responds to it, and what you must prove in court to sway the court’s opinion.

Parental alienation: Its means and methods 

There are several ways that a parent can manipulate a child to turn against the other parent. This includes lying to the child to make the other parent look bad. In other cases, a parent may blame the divorce on the other parent, constantly discuss the divorce, and lead the child to believe that the other parent is to blame for the problems in their life. This can cause the child to resent the other parent. A parent may also express sadness when the child spends time with the other parent. The child may begin to feel bad spending court-ordered visitation time with the alienated parent. The child may eventually not want to spend time with the alienated parent. The child may feel as if they’re being forced to choose one parent or the other.

Proving parental alienation to the courts 

While New York courts have a very negative bias against parents who attempt to use the children as pawns in a scheme to hurt the other parent, the bar for proving parental alienation is quite high. If the parent can successfully prove they are being alienated, the courts will consider a custody modification or otherwise issue an order for the parent to cease their behavior. Generally speaking, a parent attempting to prove alienation must be able to establish four factors:

  • The alienating parent must have manipulated the child for no legitimate reason
  • The intent of the alienating parent was to cause the child to have a negative opinion of the alienated parent
  • The conduct of the alienating parent caused the child to not want to spend time with the alienated parent
  • The child refused to spend time with the alienated parent

New York courts consider parental alienation to be adverse to the best interests of the child. As such, it can form the basis of a child custody modification. Proving parental alienation can be difficult. You will need the help of a seasoned New York divorce lawyer to win.

Talk to a Westchester County Child Custody Attorney Today 

The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine represents the interests of parents in custody disputes. Call our Westchester County family lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your situation right away.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn