Ask A Lawyer: How Do I Fight Parental Alienation?

Question:

My ex is using a form of parental alienation on our daughter. My daughter and mom refuse to pick up their phones to communicate with me. I text, email, and call to no avail. It has been almost six weeks since I have spoken to, or seen, my daughter. I have joint custody and a visitation schedule of a couple days a week. My daughter is almost 16. What is the best way to handle this?  My goal is to preserve my connection to my daughter.

 

 

Answer:

I suggest dividing the issues into your ex-wife’s conduct and the possibility of your daughter’s attitude being a factor of her age. 

Your ex-wife can be held accountable through the court for compliance with any terms in your joint parenting agreement or other court orders that address telephone or electronic contact.  If your court documents did not address telephone or electronic contact, you may need to seek court modification to include such provisions.  You advise that you have regular visitation rights but have not seen your daughter in six weeks.  If your visitation is being impaired by your wife’s conduct or failure to act, enforcement proceedings may be warranted.  Generally, the parents must comply with the visitation schedule regardless of the desires of the child and a claim of visitation interference may be warranted.  Consulting with a domestic relations law firm, such as Cordell & Cordell, would be the first step to determine what rights are encompassed by your court documents and what additional rights you might reasonably pursue in a court proceeding.

Your daughter’s age and status as a child of divorce may also be at issue and counseling with your daughter may be appropriate.  Under your divorce, you may be required to first discuss father-daughter counseling with your ex-wife as part of any agreement to mutually discuss with your ex decisions regarding your daughter’s health care.  Failure to reach an agreement on the issue with your ex-wife may require court proceedings to require your ex-wife’s cooperation in making your daughter available to attend counseling.

 

Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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