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Interference by one parent in the relationship of a child and the other parent is almost never in the child's best interests. In fact, in extreme cases, actions by one parent to alienate the affections of the child from the other parent, to interfere with the other parent's visitation rights, or to remove the child to a distant state or country can often lead to liability in tort. Tort liability is not always an option, however, as many courts refuse to award damages based upon interference with visitation rights.
A noncustodial parent is not always left without a remedy, however, simply because courts in that parent's jurisdiction refuse to recognize tort actions arising out of interference with his or her parental rights. This Manual discusses a different type of liability which may result from interference with the noncustodial parent's rights: loss of custody. The Manual will first discuss whether a party may generally obtain a change of custody based upon such interference.
The Manual will then examine specific acts by a custodial parent which may cause a court to change custody, including denial of visitation rights, alienation of the child's affections away from the noncustodial parent, and removal of the child to a distant jurisdiction. The section on alienation of the child's affections includes a discussion of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and recent cases that have dealt with PAS. The Manual concludes with a suggestion of possible provisions that practitioners may insert in custody decrees in order to prevent future problems between custodial and noncustodial parents.
National Legal Research Group, Inc.
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