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What if my ex does not have our child's best interest in mind?

Addressing child custody issues with a stubborn or irrational ex can be extremely frustrating for everyone involved. This issue can be exacerbated by accusations of abuse or neglect by one parent. Ultimately, every child custody agreement should reflect what is in the best interest of the child.

Most parents in Illinois probably do not envision heading to court when they ultimately decide to divorce, but sometimes that outcome is impossible to avoid. Accusations of abuse are quite serious, and family law judges can help issue rulings that will ultimately protect the child from any further neglect or wrongdoing. But what happens if the alleged abuse never actually occurred?

An increasing number of family law courts are now dealing with what is known as parental alienation. By definition, this is when one parent influences a child to turn against the other parent in a malicious manner. While this can be caused by constantly picking apart the other parent's shortcomings and flaws, it can also stretch to an extreme in which one parent accuses the other of abusing the child and also convinces the child that the abuse took place. This can take an enormous emotional toll on both the alienated parent and the child, although there is perhaps a silver lining. A study of 240 child custody cases found that when mothers accused fathers of abuse, the mothers had failed to gain primary custody 80 percent of the time, indicating that the few counts of actual abuse were taken seriously while the false claims were not.

It can be emotionally disturbing for an otherwise loving and caring parent to be accused of abusing his or her child. Some parents even fear legal backlash and losing all access to their children, leading them to bow to an ex-spouses' demands. While child custody can be difficult when an ex is not cooperative, an agreement that reflects the best interest of a child can still be achieved by going before an Illinois family law judge.

Source: wbt.com, "Are Some Divorcing Parents Brainwashing Their Children?", April 8, 2016

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