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Parental Alienation – Case Law Update

Posted by Erin Birt | Feb 05, 2019 | 0Comments

In Illinois, parental alienation is the programming of a child by the alienating parent to believe that one parent is good and the other parent is bad with the goal that the child completely rejects the other parent.

In 2012, I discussed the Illinois custody case, In re the Marriage of D.T.W., which illustrates alienating behavior of a mother against the father.  In this post I will also provide an update on Illinois Parental Alienation cases by highlighting the 2018 Illinois Parental Alienation case, In re the Marriage of Moore, which illustrates alienating behavior of a father against the mother.  The 2018 Illinois Parental Alienation case provides further insight into how Illinois Family Law and Divorce Courts handle parental alienation cases at this time.

A summary of both cases highlighting Illinois Parental Alienation and a current explanation of Illinois Parental Alienation are discussed below.

2012 ILLINOIS PARENTAL ALIENATION: IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF D.T.W

In the case, the 2012 Court stated it could not ignore the evidence of the mother's alienating behavior when considering each party's willingness to facilitate a continuing relationship between the children and the other parent. The Court took note of the mother's actions such as:

  • taking children for medical treatment on a repeated basis that lead to a
    curtailment, restriction or cancellation of the father's visitation;
  • the mother's repeated attempts through pleadings to prevent the father's scheduled visits through pleadings;
  • the existence of a child's journal and the child's use of words such as “abuse” and “abandoned” which raised questions of the origin of the idea of writing a journal about the father and the source of the child's information about the events memorialized in it;
  • the mother's efforts to alienate the children from the father's sister.  In the most egregious example of trying to alienate the children from the aunt, the mother filed a criminal petition for order of protection on behalf of one of the children against the aunt and caused the child to testify at the trial; and
  • the mother's failure to follow the pre-trial recommendations of the 604(b) court appointed evaluator, failure to follow court orders, and her pattern of behavior and her unwillingness to obey court orders that were not in her favor.

This case also illustrates that court appointed evaluator's reports are not controlling.  The Court held that a 604(b) recommendation concerning the custody of a child is just that, a recommendation.

In the end, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's decision. It awarded sole custody of the children to the father and granted his petition to remove them from Illinois to Florida.

2018 ILLINOIS PARENTAL ALIENATION: IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MOORE

In the case, the 2018 Court considered the evidence of the father's alienating behavior as presented by various mental health professionals and the Guardian ad litem. I discussed the role of a Guardian ad litem in a previous post, and it appears the Guardian ad litem's investigation played an important part in this case.  The Court took note of the the following facts, as stated in the Court's opinion:

  • DCFS investigation was unfounded;
  • A licensed clinical professional counselor found a child's claims of abuse seemed scripted and the child did not act or speak age appropriate;
  • He opined that the child suffered from a severe case of parental alienation syndrome;
  • He stated that parental alienation syndrome occurred when a child aligned with one parent who confronts or questions the safety or love of another parent by making the other parent appear “evil or unsafe”;
  • He recommended case of parental alienation was severe, and recommended that the child have no contact with Father until interventions were made;
  • He proposed a plan to work toward Father receiving visitation again. He recommended that Father undergo a psychological evaluation and psychological testing followed by individual counseling. When Father had made sufficient process in individual counseling, family therapy with the children could begin. After Father and the children had made sufficient progress in family therapy, Father could begin having supervised visitation. If Father was practicing boundaries and not engaging in alienating behaviors during supervised visits, Father could begin to have unsupervised visitation;
  • A child psychiatrist testified and recommended that the child's visits with Father be discontinued and during the break the child improved;
  • Father's witness performed psychodiagnostic interview and then performed testing on the parents but did not consider the past history of the parents, found no sense of dangerousness of either parent, and recommended that visitation resume as soon as possible.  He also testified that parental alienation syndrome as a diagnosis was not accepted in the field of psychology, but a behavioral pattern of parental alienation was accepted;
  • The guardian ad litem opined that she believed that there had been serious endangerment to the mental and emotional welfare of the children by the parental alienating behaviors of the Father. She did not believe that the Father could see or understand his alienating behaviors, and that the LCPC's plan for reunification with the Father should be implemented;
  • The Court accepted the treatment recommendations proposed by the LCPC and supported by the Guardian ad litem and ordered Father to schedule complete psychological testing and to comply with all treatment recommendations;
  • The Appellate Court agreed and upheld the lower courts decision reasoning that the circuit court may suspend a parent's visitation, or eliminate a parent's parenting time, “if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that [the] parent engaged in any conduct that seriously endangered the child's mental, moral, or physical health or that significantly impaired the child's emotional development.” 750 ILCS 5/603.10(a)

ILLINOIS PARENTAL ALIENATION RESOURCES

In 2018 and beyond, Illinois Parental Alienation can be defined as parental alienation syndrome occurs when a child aligned with one parent who confronts or questions the safety or love of another parent by making the other parent appear “evil or unsafe”. As an Illinois Parental Alienation Attorney, I work regularly with this topic as a divorce attorney and as a court appointed Guardian ad litem.  I have the experience and knowledge to help protect any parent in Illinois facing Parental Alienation allegations or any parent that has been wrongfully alienated by the other parent.

My firm works with an experienced litigation team and together we can help you fight back against parental alienation. My firm can help you rebuild a positive parenting relationship with your child before it is too late.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation or use the private and secure appointment link below.

The following resources may help you as you work with my firm:

Family Access Fighting for Children's Rights

Parental Alienation Awareness Website

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