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Can a Parent Sue Another Parent for Parental Alienation?

Can a parent sue another parent for monetary damages, when parental alienation is taking place, and the relief granted by the divorce or family court is inadequate to stop it?

In 2009, when a father believed that he was being alienated from his children by the mother, he attempted to sue her for 1.5 million dollars, allegedly for the value of a kidney he had donated to her during the marriage (Batista v. Batista). In 2010, a father in New Jersey sought to bring a lawsuit against the mother for parental alienation, arguing that she had engaged in "intentional infliction of emotional distress" against him (Segal v. Lynch). In both of these cases, the courts refused to hear these civil lawsuits. In the New Jersey case, the Court's reasoning was that such a lawsuit would not be in the "best interests" of the children.

So far, the best remedies available to parents in New York State for extreme parental alienation are holding an alienating parent in contempt of court or seeking a change of custody. Unfortunately for parents who have been wrongfully alienated from their children, this can be a long, tedious and expensive process.


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Fault grounds for divorce include adultery, constructive abandonment for at least one (1) year, cruel and inhuman treatment, and imprisonment of a spouse for three (3) or more years. Prior to October 2010, other than a legal separation agreement that was filed with the court, divorces were based on fault.
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