One of the most common dirty divorce tricks we encounter is when a spouse intentionally alienates their children from the other spouse. Not only can this hurt the other spouse, but less time with their children can lead to a weaker case—if the parent doesn’t seem to have a strong relationship with their kids, why should the court select them to be the primary caregiver. Some spouses will hide their children from the other spouse by denying access, moving with them to an unknown residence, withdrawing them from school (and not telling the other parent where they are enrolled), or being otherwise evasive.
Alienation is one of the harshest tricks; parents tend to love their children, and many had regular contact with them before the divorce began. It can be devastating to be separated from one’s own children.
Imagine a mother who, (during a pending divorce case), refuses to allow the father to see his children for more than a couple of hours a week (supervised). During this pending time (which can be quite lengthy absent an emergency), the mother continuously and repeatedly talks badly about the father to their children in an attempt to turn them against him. The mother hopes that the court will allow the testimony of the children, and if her alienation tactics are successful, they will say that they don’t want to be around their father. This dirty trick is increasingly common, especially if the children are 12 years old or older (since the judge may consider the children’s testimony at his or her discretion).
These cases can have grave consequences and require that the alienated parent is aggressive and tactical with their attorney. Often the most successful maneuver is to get experts such as psychologists who are trained in spotting and dealing with alienation involved in the case to help prevent the alienation and to reduce the children’s direct involvement with the litigation. The psychologists can provide the judge with their opinion and personal interaction regarding both parents.