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In San Diego in 2013, What is the Law Regarding Alienation of Affection for Parents Going Through a Divorce, Paternity or Legal Separation?

“Alienation of Affection” is a term which is often used in Family Law Courts in San Diego for parents involved in a paternity, legal separation or divorce case. It has different meanings to different parents however, legally, it most often refers to Parental Alienation Syndrome [PAC] in which one parent [either intentionally or unintentionally] alienates the affection a child has for the other parent. For parents who are alienated, this can be one of the most difficult experiences in their life.

Hard to Prove as Well

Parental alienation syndrome, as alienation of affection has been referred to in the past, is very difficult to prove. Often in San Diego, whether a divorce case or paternity case, obtaining evidence can be most difficult. Many times, an expert opinion is needed and this would require a court order for a psychological evaluation of the parents and child and, sometimes, third parties such as new spouses. There are many psychologist and psychiatrists in San Diego who routinely perform these evaluation through the Superior Court.

A Warped Viewpoint

In parental alienation syndrome, one parent is alienated and the presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have a healthy and normal relationship with both parents equally is not the perception of the child and the alienating parent. The alienation, as regards the parent, can be unintentional or intentional but the effect is the same: the child does not want a relationship with one parent and [often] expresses anger and hatred towards the alienated parent. The viewpoint of both the child and the parent is one which is not based in reality but in perception. Of course, there are times children are legitimately alienated from their parents due to physical abuse or neglect or sexual molest. This article does not address this form of “justified” parent alienation and only the context of family law.

Best Interests

The law in San Diego is clear for the parenting plan: best interests of the child. This includes bonding, stability, safe from harm and also which parent is the most likely to cooperate and coordinate visitation with the other parent since frequent and continuing contact is also very relevant. In parental alienation syndrome cases, the alienating parent does not truly believe that it is in the child’s best interests to have frequent and continuing contact with the other parent.

A Law Firm Known for its Integrity

Roy M. Doppelt is a San Diego family law firm which provides all types of divorce services from a no-fault divorce onward including parental alienation cases. If you are contemplating divorce ask for a free in-person or virtual consultation.

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