Custody battles can be intense and emotional, especially among parents with younger, dependent children. Yet the courts always try to do their best to evaluate the child's best interests when determining custody.
Parental Alienation in Custody Cases
Normally, the courts will determine the preference of the child when making a decision. Because parents often know this, they may try to bribe or convince their child that they are the superior parent. This can become extremely confusing for young children and can be considered parental alienation as one parent tries to move the children away from the other. Some parents will even resort to talking negatively about their ex-spouse to achieve distaste in the children's minds.
In addition to considering the preference of each child, the court will determine the desire and ability of each parent to show an open and loving relationship between the child and the other parent. This is why parental alienation can backfire. The courts want to determine that a parent will not ostracize the children from their other parent, instead allowing the kids to develop a healthy relationship with that parent during visitations or partial custody times.
The Best Interests of the Child
The court will also consider the child's health, safety, welfare, and the nature of and contact with both parents when making this important decision. For example, if one spouse is a chain smoker then chances are that the court will not favor this parent because the smoking is bad for the child's health. If one adult works at a local nightclub as a hostess, the court may also choose to forego the custody with this parent because it puts the children in an unhealthy environment. Also, the court will consider both parent's alcohol and drug use history, as this can be a telling factor as to which adult is more reliable.