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Child custody, parental alienation and the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching. Many are removing pumpkins from the front porch and beginning to hang garlands and lights for upcoming holiday celebrations. These holidays celebrate a variety of occasions, but the overarching theme is family. Spending time with loved ones and taking a moment to gather together.

These times can be especially difficult for families of divorce. Parents with children may have to balance celebrations with child custody arrangements. In many cases, the agreements will go smoothly and each side will get to enjoy some celebrations with their children.

Others may not go as well. In these cases, parents may not work together for the best interest of their children. Instead, one parent may make the situation worse by attempting to alienate the children from the other parent.

What exactly is parental alienation? Parental alienation occurs when a parent interferes with the child's relationship with the other parent. This can lead to the child rejecting the other parent.

A publication in Psychology Today discusses this disorder, noting that it "results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." Some methods parents may use to achieve this goal include speaking poorly of the other parent and attempting to limit the time the other parent and child have together as well as limiting contact with extended members of the family of the other parent.

This may be done to help reduce the time spent with the other parent and could be used as a means to violate a child custody agreement.

What can be done if a parent is not abiding by the child custody agreement? Parents are required to follow the terms of the child custody agreement. Remedies are available to parents when the agreement is not followed.

If, for example, the parent refuses to return the child after visitation, a contempt action can be filed with the court. This allows the parent to ask the court to step in and ensure the custody arrangement is enforced.

This is just one example for one situation. Each situation is unique. As such, those facing child custody issues are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced custody lawyer. 

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