Parental alienation can make an already-complicated custody situation extremely tense. For parents who are victims, it can leave them in anguish and frustration, and wondering how to stop it.
Are there laws against parental alienation in South Carolina? Is there anything you can do if the other parent is alienating the children?
The answer is yes. South Carolina custody laws address parental alienation. There are things you can do if you and your children are victims of parental alienation.
Practically, you should know that it’s an uphill battle. The legal standards are high. To be successful, you must bring your claim thoughtfully and thoroughly. We recommend that you work with a family law attorney specializing in parental alienation.
What Are the Parental Alienation Laws in South Carolina?
A summary of South Carolina laws having to do with parental alienation:
- The court may consider parental alienation when it creates or modifies a custody order. The court may look at whether a parent encourages the child’s relationship with the other parent, and whether they have previously followed court orders (S.C. Code § 63-15-240).
- To receive a change in custody, the parent asking for it must show that the circumstances have changed enough to justify modifying custody. They must show that it’s in the best interests of the children to change custody. In other words, the court will not change custody unless it’s very clear that parental alienation is happening. The actions of the offending parent must be serious. Stutz v. Funderburk, 272 S.C. 273, 276, 252 S.E.2d 32, 34 (1979).
- A court may impose conditions on parenting time that may be helpful to address alienation. The court may order supervised visitation and any other condition necessary for the safety of the child. For example, the court may prohibit the presence of a third party who does the parent’s bidding in fostering alienation. It may order a parent to have supervised visits. An order may prohibit a parent from scheduling activities so that the child can’t attend parenting time with the other parent. (S.C. Code § 63-15-240).
- A parent may not withhold parenting time in violation of a court order. If a parent refuses to follow the child custody order, including parenting time schedules, the aggrieved parent may seek enforcement through the courts. Law enforcement may assist in enforcement of an order, if necessary. (S.C. Code § 63-15-364).
What Can I Do to Stop Parental Alienation in SC?
If you’re the victim of parental alienation in South Carolina, you can take legal action. The court can change who has primary custody. They can modify visitation schedules and impose conditions to stop the other parent from alienating or make their efforts ineffective.
As a parent, you should know that the legal proof that you need to succeed on a parental alienation motion is extremely high. Courts are reluctant to upset an existing custody order. For new custody orders, parental alienation is only one factor they will consider. While legal standards are high, it is not an impossible burden to achieve, if you carefully prepare your case.
You must document the alienation through admissible evidence. That may mean records of communications like text messages, a diary of denied visitation or even counselors who can evaluate the children and identify what is happening.
Gathering this evidence in a way that effectively presents your case is crucial. With a high burden of proof, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to bring your case to court.