Parental alienation. It’s become a hot button buzz phrase.
It’s also been widely discredited and rejected.
Yet it can influence which parent is awarded custody … at least in some states, in some judges’ courtrooms.
But what of false claims? It’s hard to prove that something didn’t happen.
And even if you can, it probably does not follow that the parent wrongly accused should be awarded custody as punishment of the false accuser.
As a result, in many, many cases, there is no redress, no remedy for those falsely accused. It’s just “too bad”.
But no longer, in New Jersey.
A New Jersey trial court has recognized a parental right to seek monetary damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of the other parent (and / or their relatives) turning their children against him or her.
The court distinguished such a claim from a claim for alienation of affections, which has been rejected in New Jersey.
It remains to be seen whether this will prove to be too fine a distinction on an appeal.
The court held that an emotional distress claim would have to be brought in family court after final judgment, and that such claims could be decided by juries.
However, companion claims against the other parent’s relatives would be relegated to civil court.
It will be interesting to see over time whether the threat of suit for damages deters parental alienation in New Jersey.