All of us here at Jacobs Berger want to reassure our clients and business associates that their health and safety are our primary concern.

All of us here at Jacobs Berger want to reassure our clients and business associates that their health and safety are our primary concern and that we are also committed to the health and safety of our staff and our families. Though we are currently working remotely, we continue to operate as we always have, providing quality service and for us, it is “business as usual.”


We are offering telephonic and video calls, conferences, mediations, and strategic planning sessions to continue to service our clients and prospective clients, and are, of course, available for ongoing business partnerships via our virtual network!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us via phone at 973-710-4366, by email, or, if necessary, carrier pigeon. (We are kidding about the last one, but you laughed, didn’t you?) Also, head to our social media pages for some tips on staying healthy, safe and sane during this time.

We are all in this together.

The Signs of Parental Alienation and Using the Law to Fight Back

Morristown Parental Alienation Attorneys: Are you being undermined?

Parental alienation is the often silent and ugly hidden face of divorce. Put plainly, parental alienation is when one parent consciously or unconsciously undermines and interferes with a child’s relationships with the other parent.

Get in Touch  with a Morris County NJ Parental Alienation and Family Law AttorneySome of the most common examples that define parental alienation are one parent attempting to hinder the other parent’s visitation by refusing to follow a custody schedule, intentionally scheduling activities for the children during the other parent’s time, discussing the divorce case with the children and disparaging the other parent in front of the children. However, parental alienation is often more complicated than simple obstruction of visitation and can manifest in many forms, including:

A Campaign of Denigration

Alienated children may come to be consumed with hatred of the targeted parent. This hatred may cause them to deny or forget any positive past experiences leading to rejection of all contact and communication. Parents who were once loved and valued seemingly overnight become hated and feared.

Reflexive and Unwavering Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict

When it comes to any family conflict the alienated child will always side with the alienating parent, regardless of how absurd or baseless that parent’s position may be. There often isn’t any will or attempt to be impartial when faced with inter-parental conflicts. Children with parental alienation syndrome have no interest in hearing the targeted parent’s point of view.

Rejection of Extended Family

The hatred of the targeted parent may spread to his or her extended family. Thus, not only is the targeted parent denigrated, despised, and avoided but so too are their extended family. Often beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins may suddenly be completely avoided and rejected. This constitutes one of the clearest signs that parental alienation is occurring.

Frivolous, and Absurd Rationalizations

Get in Touch  with a Morris County NJ Parental Alienation and Family Law AttorneyOften, when children who have been alienated are questioned about the reasons for their intense hostility toward the targeted parent, the explanations offered are not of the magnitude that typically would lead a child to reject a parent. Furthermore, they may mirror the alienating parent’s views without the child having any real personal basis for these feelings.

Lack of Ambivalence about the Alienating Parent

Alienated children may exhibit a lack of ambivalence about the alienating parent, demonstrating an automatic, reflexive, idealized support. That parent is perceived as perfect, while the other is perceived as generally bad often without specifics. If an alienated child is asked to identify just one negative aspect of the alienating parent, he or she will often be unable to clearly articulate their reasoning.

The “Independent Thinker” Phenomenon

Though alienated children will be unduly negatively influenced by the alienating parent, they will usually insist that the decision to reject the targeted parent is completely theirs alone. However, this is usually not the case and becomes clear when they are asked about the reason for their negative feeling toward the alienated parent.

A study by (Baker & Darnall, 2007), found that targeted parents rated their children as experiencing several of the above mentioned behavioral manifestations. Parents reported that their children exhibited one or more of these behaviors with a high degree of frequency. One exception was alienated children being able to maintain a relationship with some members of the targeted parent’s extended family, which occurred in cases where that relative was actually aligned with the alienating parent.

The “Independent Thinker” PhenomenonThe most common effects of these types of actions are that children may refuse to spend time with one parent while mimicking the adult language of the alienating parent. Often the child may feel, consciously or unconsciously, that they will anger or lose the affection of the parent that is engaging in the alienating behavior. This conflict is often the cause of intense suffering in the child as they feel they must sacrifice the love of a parent or extended close family in order to maintain the affection of the alienating parent.

One of the largest studies into the prevalence of parental alienation was conducted by Clawar and Rivlin (1991) and covered a 12 year period. It found that in 86% of the 1000 cases they studied there was some level of parental programming and brainwashing in an effort to implant false and negative ideas about the other parent with the intention of turning the child against that other parent

Using the law to Combat Parental Alienation

New Jersey now identifies and addresses custody cases involving parental alienation with a much greater understanding of the long-lasting impacts it can have on the welfare of a child.  As a result and thankfully, there are many more legal avenues to combat this type of emotional abuse.

In determining the best interest of the children in matters of custody, courts look at many factors, including which parent is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, the attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent in addition to the level of conflict between the parents and the ability of the parents to cooperate with each other.

Science has long since proven that it is always in the best interests of a child to maintain a healthy and strong relationship with both parents. Though divorce is extremely difficult on any family parents need to realize the effects that their actions and words can have on their children. It is important not to put each other down in front of the children or let the one parent prevent the other parent from spending quality time with the children when they are obviously loving and supportive.

Modern family law courts are very in tune with parental alienation issues and have the ability to issue certain remedies, including ordering reunification therapy and modifying the custody order.

Contact our Madison, NJ Family Law and Parental Alienation for a Virtual ConsultationIn preparing to go to court, there are certain things that can be done to bring the parental alienation to light. The first of which is keeping meticulous records. Note conversations with the other parent and keep printouts of text messages and emails, call logs, and any disruptions to parenting time. It is also highly advisable to document your relationship with your child by keeping a log of your parenting time with places you go and how you spend your time with your child or children. This will include saving all receipts and taking photos during your time together. If the alienating parent is claiming that you have a negative relationship with your child or children, showing evidence proving the contrary is very important. Other important actions include:

  • Scheduling an interview with the judge. In most cases it is possible to request that the judge interview a child in private. This allows the judge to converse with the child in a friendly fashion.
  • Working with a child custody evaluator. It is also possible to enlist an expert to perform a forensic evaluation of your child custody situation. An expert evaluator will conduct interviews of the parents and the child and possibly conduct psychological testing on all parties involved to discover if there are any issues. The expert can then issue a written report to the court with their findings.

When it comes to fighting parental alienation and preserving time with your children you will need the expertise of a qualified and experienced family law attorney. It is critical not to take on these issues alone.

Contact our Madison, NJ Family Law and Parental Alienation for a Virtual Consultation

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our team of family law attorneys fiercely supports our clients across Randolph, Madison, Tewksbury, Florham Park, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in ensuring that their parenting time is preserved and protected.

To schedule a confidential case assessment regarding your family law issue, please contact us online or call our Morristown, NJ office by dialing (973) 718-7705 today.

About the Author:

Sarah Jacobs is dedicated to protecting the interests of clients in family law proceedings. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and Qualified as a Mediator, Sarah possesses nearly 20 years of experience practicing law throughout the State of New Jersey. Together with partner Jamie N. Berger, Esq. their boutique Morristown family law firm is managed with the goal of providing high-quality service tailored to each client's individual needs. In her capacity as both a family law mediator and litigator, Sarah works with negotiation-minded clients in a cooperative setting. She is also a skilled litigator with the knowledge needed to take even the most complex cases to court, if necessary.

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