The Effects of Parental Undue Influence on Custody and Visitation
Separation and divorce can emotionally and psychologically impact a child. The way parents treat one another can make a significant difference in how a child processes the parents' separation. In some cases, one parent may choose to take a “scorched earth” approach in attempts to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent. A parent may even exert undue influence on a child by speaking badly about the other parent to ensure he or she receives sole custody. However, when this happens, the child can be left psychologically scarred. In response, a court may decide to end or severely limit the visitation rights of the offending parent.
Possible Criminal Charges
A parent's undue influence and consistent interference with visitation is known as parental alienation. Although Illinois courts may not use the term “parental alienation,” Illinois law does recognize that a parent can interfere with the other parent's relationship with his or her child. When a parent is guilty of visitation interference, he or she may even face criminal charges. These charges may be filed if a parent keeps or hides a child as a means to interfere with the other parent's visitation or custody rights. In addition, if a parent has a history of interfering, including prior conviction for unlawful visitation interference, he or she may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The offending parent's driver's or professional license may also be suspended.
Generally, in Illinois, visitation rights are awarded to the non-custodial parent provided that visitation does not seriously endanger a child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health. However, there are cases when interference with the other parent's visitation or custody rights occurs because one parent believes the child is in danger if he or she goes back to the other parent. In these cases, there may be a defense to criminal charges.
Ask the Court for Help
When your child's other parent is actively trying to damage your relationship with your child, the best course of action is to go back to the court that ordered custody and visitation. You can file a motion to tell the court what is happening. In filing the motion, you may ask the judge to change the visitation schedule or custody order. It is a good idea to keep a clear record of the actions the other parent takes to interfere with your parent-child relationship, including statements your child makes. Avoid placing your child in a situation where he or she feels forced to pick sides, and instead reassure them positively. To avoid further psychological damage to your child, do not speak negatively about the other parent in front of or to your child.
Contact an Illinois Attorney
If you have a custody or visitation order in place and believe the other parent is consistently ignoring it, your best course of action is to go to court to ask the judge for a modification. A compassionate Illinois family law attorney can help. Contact MKFM Law to discuss your situation today. You do not have to go through it alone.