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Mother’s alienation behavior led to custody transfer to father. DiTorro v. DiTorro, 277 A.D.2d 198 (2d Dep’t 2000)


Child custody disputes are often emotionally charged and contentious, and they can be further complicated by the issue of parental alienation. Parental alienation is a phenomenon that can  occurs during or after a divorce, where one parent manipulates or influences their child to turn against the other parent. This can result in the child rejecting or exhibiting hostility towards the targeted parent. Parental alienation is considered harmful to the child’s psychological well-being and can lead to long-term negative consequences.

In New York, courts take allegations of parental alienation very seriously and may even change custody arrangements to protect the child’s best interests as well as order counseling. This was demonstrated in the case of DiTorro v. DiTorro, which involved allegations of parental alienation and the impact it had on child custody arrangements.

Factual Background
The parties in DiTorro v. DiTorro were married in 1985 and had two children together. In 1996, the parties separated, and the mother was awarded custody of the children. The father was granted visitation rights, but he soon began to claim that the mother was alienating the children from him. The father also alleged that the mother was denying him access to the children and interfering with his parenting time.

The court appointed a forensic evaluator to investigate the allegations of parental alienation. The evaluator concluded that the mother had engaged in behaviors that were harmful to the children’s relationship with the father. Specifically, the evaluator found that the mother had made derogatory comments about the father in the presence of the children, had interfered with the father’s parenting time, and had discouraged the children from spending time with the father.

Based on the findings of the evaluator, the court modified the custody arrangement to give the father primary custody of the children. The court also ordered the mother to participate in therapy to address her behaviors and to cooperate with the father in parenting the children.

In DiTorro v. DiTorro, the court’s decision to modify the custody arrangement was based on the mother’s actions and their impact on the children’s relationship with the father. The court recognized that parental alienation can have a significant negative impact on a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. By deliberately turning the child against the other parent, the alienating parent is essentially putting the child in the middle of a conflict and forcing the child to choose between the parents.

New York courts have long recognized the harmful effects of parental alienation and have developed a framework for dealing with such cases. When presented with allegations of parental alienation, courts will typically appoint a forensic evaluator to investigate the allegations and make recommendations for custody and parenting time. The evaluator will consider a wide range of factors, including the behavior of both parents, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any evidence of parental alienation.

If the evaluator finds evidence of parental alienation, the court may modify custody arrangements to protect the child’s best interests. In extreme cases, the court may even remove the child from the alienating parent’s custody and award custody to the other parent.

DiTorro v. DiTorro illustrates the serious consequences of parental alienation in child custody cases. When one parent deliberately attempts to turn the child against the other parent, the court may intervene to protect the child’s best interests. If you are involved in a child custody dispute that involves allegations of parental alienation, it is important to work with an experienced New York family law lawyer who understands the complexities of these cases and who  can help you gather evidence to support your claims and work with experts such as forensic evaluators to present a strong case in court. They can also advise you on your rights and options under New York law and help you navigate the legal system.


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