How is Parental Alienation Defined in South Carolina?
Parental alienation refers to the loss or damage of a relationship between a parent and child. This alienation could occur for numerous reasons, such as a parent’s drug use, abuse, divorce, or manipulation by another parent. Regardless of the cause, parental alienation implies a serious strain on, or even lack of, relationship between the parent and child, which should be addressed immediately.
Although not strictly illegal, unless breaking the terms of a custody agreement, intentional parental alienation involves the actions of one spouse against the other. The intent is typically to sever the child’s relationship with the other parent by:
- Saying negative things about the other parent in front of or to the child
- Preventing the child’s communication with the other parent
- Preventing the child from spending time with the other parent
Proving Parental Alienation in Charleston SC
It can be very difficult to prove allegations of parental alienation, since the actions are often committed in private with the child as the only witness. Although South Carolina law does allow children to testify if they are able to understand that they must tell the truth, family courts are understandably reluctant to place children on the stand in the midst of custody battles.
However, there are some actions which are more easily proven. You can, for example, document any times when your spouse cancels, misses without explanation, or is late in allowing you to spend time with your child. You can similarly document missed phone calls.
To assist you in proving these allegations, you should collect:
- Text messages showing cancellations or delays communicated by the other parent
- Phone logs showing unanswered calls to your child
- Social media messages or posts showing the other parent’s intent to keep the child from you
- Social media messages or posts disparaging you if visible to your child
It will still be difficult to prove parental alienation, so be certain to consult an attorney who can help you to create a solid case that will help you to establish a relationship with your child.
How Parental Alienation Affects Custody
When determining custody of a child, South Carolina law requires that the courts consider the best interests of the child by taking into account numerous factors, including parental relationships. In fact, the law specifically requires that the court take into consideration:
- Past and current relationships with the proposed guardians
- Each guardian’s encouragement of the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent
- Whether or not the guardians have involved the child in their disputes or maligned the other guardian in front of the child
If the court determines that one parent has caused the alienation of a child from the other parent, it can choose to limit or eliminate that parent’s custody rights.
Contact an Attorney
If you believe that you are at risk of parental alienation due to the actions of your spouse or former spouse, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. Lauren Taylor Law can help you to take legal steps to prevent alienation, as well as defend your parental rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor is an authority on family law in Charleston and Greenville. Lauren Taylor Law is an authority on divorce, child support, and alimony in South Carolina. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.