New Mexico divorce law emphasizes the important role both parents play in the life of a child. Whenever possible, joint physical custody is prioritized so the child has an opportunity to develop a loving relationship with both parents. From there, the courts trust that each parent will do their part to promote strong family bonds, but sometimes that is not how things work out.
When parents bad-mouth each other, or one parent tries to turn the child against the other, our courts will step in. New Mexico judges take parental alienation very seriously since it is a form of domestic abuse.
Over the years, Attorney Bob Matteucci of Matteucci Family Law has worked with countless victims of parental alienation who are desperate to put a stop to the abuse they and their child are suffering. He also helps people who have been wrongly accused of parental alienation, and other forms of domestic abuse, clear their good name.
Whether you’re the victim of abuse by a former partner who wants to turn your child against you, or have been wrongly accused of parental alienation, Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to listen to your story, and help you find the best path forward for you and your family.
WHAT IS PARENTAL ALIENATION?
Parental alienation is an intentional, concerted effort to damage or destroy the relationship your child is building with his or her other parent. It is not something that happens by accident; rather, it’s the result of a deliberate desire to hurt the child’s relationship with the other parent. Because of this, it is considered emotional or psychological abuse, both forms of domestic violence.
While every case of parental alienation is different, there are a few common behaviors that may lead to it. They include:
- Belittling, berating, or criticizing the other parent in the child’s presence, sometimes through false or exaggerated allegations
- Blaming the other parent in front of the child for problems such as the divorce
- Discussing details of the divorce or custody proceedings with the child
- Withholding information about the child from the other parent
- Excluding the other parent from the child’s extracurricular activities
- Refusing to share vital information about the child such as medical, school, and related matters with the other parent
- Discouraging the child from visiting the other parent
- Attempting to make the child feel guilty for wanting to visit the other parent
- Interfering with communications between the child and the other parent
- Constantly threatening court action over minor disagreements
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PARENTAL ALIENATION?
The real victim of parental alienation is not the parent who is being bad-mouthed, but the child who is being manipulated. You may never know what your child’s other parent is saying to them about you behind your back, but changes to your child’s behavior may tip you off that something is not right.
You should be on the lookout for these signs if you suspect your child’s other parent is trying to turn them against you:
- The child is resentful toward you
- The child appears fearful or distrustful of you
- It’s more difficult to discipline the child during your visitation time
- The child doesn’t want to spend time or communicate with you
- The child mimics some of the same negative statements or behaviors of the other parent
If any of these behaviors are observed, your next step should be consulting with an experienced family law attorney like Bob Matteucci who can help you take action to protect your child.
WHAT CAN NEW MEXICO COURTS DO?
The primary concern of New Mexico’s family court system is protecting children. When it is clear that a child is being harmed by a parent who is attempting to alienate them from other family members, the courts will take action. The law has zero tolerance for parental alienation and other forms of domestic violence.
The most common outcome in these cases is an amendment to the existing child custody agreement that limits the child’s time with the abuser. But it is also possible the court will hold the alienating parent in contempt, or require counseling or similar measures for the child, parent, or parents.
STRATEGIES FOR PROVING PARENTAL ALIENATION
While our courts can take swift action when parental alienation is occurring, they must be persuaded it is necessary for them to do so. Judges generally do not like to wade into post-divorce parenting disputes unless there is clear evidence the child is being harmed or other circumstances demand action. This is one of the reasons why it is important to work with an experienced New Mexico family law attorney like Bob Matteucci.
The courts will want to see evidence your child’s other parent is trying to destroy your parent-child relationship before they will step in, and an attorney can help you gather that information. Here are some possible ways you can demonstrate parental alienation to the judge:
- Written records. Parents who attempt to destroy their child’s relationship with the other parent often leave a written record. Emails, texts, and social media posts dissing the other parent can prove that attempts to smear the other parent’s character or parenting style are ongoing and not one-off events.
- Witnesses. Relatives and friends are often willing to testify about the actions of the parent attempting to alienate a child from their other parent. However, these witnesses can often be seen as biased. It is important to look beyond this group to other adults the child may have shared personal information with like teachers, coaches, counselors, or volunteers that staff extracurricular activities the child is involved in, who may be viewed as more objective witnesses.
- Expert witnesses. Expert witnesses may be necessary to explain to the judge the nature and effects of parental alienation. These are individuals who can offer professional opinions involving mental health, psychiatry, and related disciplines that touch on this subject.
CONTACT A NEW MEXICO FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION
Because of the damaging effects of parental alienation, it is important to take prompt legal action if you suspect your child’s other parent is trying to turn your child against you. Let Bob Matteucci of Matteucci Family Law review your case and advise the best approach to handle the problem. Contact Bob today to get started.