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Parental alienation is grounds for a custody modification request

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Blog, Family Law

Child custody decisions involve numerous factors that revolve around the best interests of the children. When the court suspects the well-being of a child is at stake, it may take action.

Parental alienation has the potential to cause psychological and emotional trauma and may be grounds for a custody change.

Parental alienation

Parental alienation happens when one parent attempts to turn a child against the other parent. It can manifest as making false accusations about or belittling the other parent, portraying him or her in a negative light. It also often involves manipulating the child’s emotions. The effects of parental alienation can be serious, impacting a child’s emotional and mental well-being and his or her relationship with one or both parents. The presence of parental alienation also results in a toxic environment.


To establish parental alienation as a ground for custody change in New Jersey, the concerned party must provide compelling evidence. This may include documentation of instances where the alienating parent denigrated the other parent in front of the child, interfered with visitation rights or attempted to manipulate the child’s feelings. Witnesses, such as teachers or therapists, can help substantiate claims of parental alienation. Other forms of proof are texts, emails and social media posts insulting the targeted parent.

Court intervention

After substantiation of parental alienation, courts may intervene to protect the child’s well-being. They may consider changes in custody or visitation arrangements to minimize the harm caused by alienation. In some cases, the court may order counseling or therapy for the child and both parents to address the issue.

According to Contemporary Pediatrics, in 2022, over 20 million American adults were parental alienation targets. Parental alienation results in a potentially harmful environment. To protect their children, parents have the right to ask for a custody change. New Jersey prioritizes the best interests of children in custody cases. Because of this, they will take measures to safeguard them against parental alienation, including considering modifying a custody agreement.