Child Custody: Intentional Interference in Child’s Relationship with Other Parent Can Affect Custody Rights
When a parent intentionally interferes with the other parent’s relationship with a child, the New York State courts have held such interference to be so inconsistent with the best interests of the child it raises a strong probability that the offending party is unfit to act as custodial parent.
In child custody cases in New York State, the courts have denied a parent custody when the parent has made false claims of substance abuse, violence and/or sexual abuse against the other parent; has inappropriately coached a child in an effort to alienate that child from the other parent or has demonstrated lack of insight as to the importance of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent and lack of awareness as to the impact of his or her actions upon that relationship.
Other actions that have been found by the New York State courts to render an offending parent unfit to be a custodian of a child are:
- needlessly subjecting the child to an investigation by Child Protective Services,
- training the child to ignore the other parent,
- destroying notes to the child from the other parent,
- minimizing the role of the other parent in the child’s life,
- manipulating the child into believing the other parent is mean,
- creating an unsubstantiated belief that the other parent had committed domestic violence and abandoned the child,
- discouraging the child from engaging in activities with the other parent, and
- making the child fearful to engage in otherwise enjoyable activities with the other parent.
The New York State Courts strongly discourage conduct by one parent designed to destroy or negatively impact the child’s relationship with the other parent and take necessary steps to protect the child from such conduct. The courts must determine “the best interests” of the child and such behavior is considered not to be in the child’s best interests.
The offending actions listed above are examples of conduct that can, either alone or in combination with other behaviors, result in a loss of custody. The list is not all inclusive. Each case is decided based upon its particular facts. It is wise to consult with a custody attorney to determine the import of the facts in your case.