How Parental Alienation Affects Child Custody in Texas
Parental alienation is one of the most serious issues involved in family law issues, and one of the most difficult ones that we deal with as attorneys who help clients with child custody issues here in Texas. One spouse badmouthing the other parent out of spite and/or in an effort to get the children to take sides is one of the most damaging things that can be done to them. Unbeknownst to many parents, it can also damage the children’s relationships with both parents because of the position they are being put in and the resentment that can come about from being put in that position.
Not to mention; parental alienation can affect a child custody case if there is evidence that one parent is intentionally trying to drive a wedge between child and parent. This is because specialists view the behavior as a manifestation of emotional and mental abuse that is not in the best interest of the child. Judges can utilize a number of individuals to help find out more about a child’s living situation and better educate the court as to what is in the child’s best interest, including guardians ad litem, parenting facilitators, and/or psychologists; all of whom can make reports to the court that can lead to restricted or reduced parental rights and/or court-ordered therapy.
The Law in Texas: Conservatorship & The Parent-Child Relationship
In Texas, custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” While parents have the option of filing a parenting plan, if they do not do so, courts will decide on a custody arrangement based on a significant amount of discretion that the court has and how it evaluates the following factors in a given case:
- The child’s wishes (the court can interview in chambers a child 12 years of age or older);
- The child’s well-being (both physical and psychological/emotional, taking into account any potential danger);
- The parents’ abilities and whether they will facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- Whether the parents are effectively able to communicate so as to make decisions that promote what is in the best interests of the child;
- How much each parent contributed to the child’s upbringing and their ability to place the welfare of the child as a top priority;
- How stable the homes are and the distance between them; and
- Any other factors necessary to take into consideration.
While in Texas there is a presumption that joint managing conservators for both parents is in the best interest of the child, again, the court will always make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child and, as you can see, there are numerous places where parental alienation can affect a court’s decision and destroy a parent’s chances of spending an equal amount of time with their child. For example, while both parents may be named Joint Managing Conservators, one may be granted exclusive right to determine the primary residence for the children if the other parent is alienating them from that parent.
Questions? Schedule A Free Consultation with Our Texas Family Law Attorneys
If you have any questions about parental alienation or child custody, contact the office of Colvin, Saenz, Rodriguez & Kennamer, L.L.P. today for a free consultation with one of our Brownsville family attorneys.