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Court found that the mother’s actions didn’t rise to the level of alienation. Matter of Kent v. Kent, 245 A.D.2d 976 (3d Dep’t 1997)

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In New York, the best interests of the child are paramount in custody and visitation disputes. However, when one parent engages in behavior that harms the child’s relationship with the other parent, it can create a complex legal issue. This behavior is known as parental alienation, and it can have significant consequences for both the child and the targeted parent. In cases where parental alienation is alleged, the court must determine whether a modification of custody or visitation is necessary to protect the child’s welfare.

To determine whether there has been parent alienation, the court may consider the following factors:

  • The child’s wishes and preferences regarding custody and visitation.
  • The extent to which each parent has encouraged and supported the child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Any evidence of a parent making negative comments or showing hostility towards the other parent in front of the child.
  • Any evidence of a parent attempting to interfere with the other parent’s visitation or communication with the child.
  • Any evidence of a parent making false accusations against the other parent.
  • The extent to which each parent has fulfilled their parenting responsibilities and provided for the child’s needs.

Parental alienation is a serious issue that can have a profound impact on a child’s relationship with a parent. When one parent engages in behavior that undermines the relationship between a child and the other parent, it can lead to long-term emotional and psychological harm. In New York, courts take allegations of parental alienation seriously and will consider them when making custody determinations.

Factual Background
In Matter of Kent v. Kent, the mother was awarded custody of the parties’ children in the initial divorce decree. However, the father later sought a modification of the custody arrangement, alleging that the mother was engaging in parental alienation by interfering with his relationship with the children. Specifically, the father alleged that the mother was making negative comments about him to the children and attempting to turn them against him.

The court conducted a hearing to determine whether the mother was engaging in behavior that constituted parental alienation. The court ultimately found that the mother’s behavior was “troubling” and “inappropriate,” but that it did not rise to the level of parental alienation. The court noted that the mother had not completely severed the father’s relationship with the children and that the children still had a positive relationship with him.

The court denied the father’s request for full custody, but did order that the mother attend counseling to address her behavior. The court also modified the custody arrangement to give the father more time with the children.

Discussion
Matter of Kent v. Kent illustrates the complexity of parental alienation cases. While the court in this case found that the mother’s behavior was troubling, it did not rise to the level of parental alienation. This underscores the importance of presenting strong evidence and arguments in parental alienation cases, as courts will carefully scrutinize the evidence to determine whether parental alienation has actually occurred.

In Matter of Kent v. Kent, the court also modified the custody arrangement to give the father more time with the children. This highlights the fact that courts will take parental alienation seriously and may modify custody arrangements in order to protect the child’s relationship with the non-alienating parent.

Conclusion
If you believe that your child’s other parent is engaging in behavior that constitutes parental alienation, it is important to contact an experienced New York family law lawyer who can help you gather the evidence necessary to prove your case and can help you navigate the complex legal process. In parental alienation cases, time is of the essence, as the longer the behavior goes on, the harder it may be to repair the relationship between the child and the alienated parent. Contact an attorney today to learn more.

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