April 25th, is National Parental Alienation Day, a day to bring this major issue to the forefront of people’s minds.
Parental Alienation is not a term widely known to most people, but over the last few years, its become a term more frequently heard in South Carolina. According to the Lauren Taylor Law Firm: Parental alienation refers to the loss or damage of a relationship between a parent and child. This alienation could occur for numerous reasons, such as a divorce or manipulation by another parent. Regardless of the cause, parental alienation implies a serious strain on, or even lack of, the relationship between the parent and child, which should be addressed immediately.
Although not strictly illegal, unless breaking the terms of a custody agreement, intentional parental alienation involves the actions of one spouse against the other. The intent is typically to sever the child’s relationship with the other parent by:
- Saying negative things about the other parent in front of or to the child
- Preventing the child’s communication with the other parent
- Preventing the child from spending time with the other parent
House Representative Stewart Jones filed House Bill 3569 to change Family Courts and attempt to prevent Parental Alienation from beginning in the courtrooms. This bill would require that all family courts begin with an equal custody arrangement, guaranteeing a child’s right to maintain a healthy loving relationship with both parents. And changes the rule of the court on how to show a parent should not have equal custody from “Preponderance of the evidence” to “Clear and Convincing“. This bill currently has 60 co-signers.
Many parents in South Carolina who have spoken out against Family Courts and the Actors involved in the system state that Parental Alienation begins in the courtroom by the legal system. This is done by a Judge who believes what a lawyer has stated to them (many times without factual evidence) and then orders that the accused parent only see their own child a few hours a week.
Parental Alienation’s sole purpose is to erase a parent from a child’s life. This includes sadly most often a complete half of the child’s family such as grandparents, cousins, uncles, etc..
Many parents have attempted to halt parental alienation in the same courtrooms as it began only to have it worsened by the same actors and to have their contact with their child lessened.
Throughout South Carolina’s Family Courts sits many Judges who are lacking in proper education when it comes to such matters, or understanding the damage this causes children. Dr. Mark Roseman, founder of the Toby Center in Florida along with many others has stated that this damage stays with that child and future children for 6 generations. Many times showing up as anxiety issues or other mental and emotional disconnects.
Another sad truth about Parental Alienation is that many parents and children commit suicide from the mental and emotional strain it causes them. In 2019 Science Daily published an article stating, “Based on their most recent counts, the researchers estimate that 22 million American adults, and close to 4 million children, have been victimized by parental alienating behaviors. They also found that 47% of moderately to severely alienated parents had contemplated suicide within the past year. Furthermore, victims of alienation reported more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and higher rates of depression than parents who had not been alienated.”
Currently, there are no defined numbers to show how many children and parents have committed suicide in South Carolina due to parental alienation. To note there has also never been a study requested or performed to show this data in South Carolina. Some believe a study of this sort would show how badly the state’s family courts are handling such issues when it comes to children.
Parental Alienation is considered among many Psychological and Legal Professionals as an act of Child Abuse, but South Carolina has not defined it as so. Throughout the state, many grassroots organizations hold events and rallies to bring this issue to light in South Carolina.