Malicious parent syndrome refers to a pattern of deliberate vengeful behavior exhibited by the custodial parent towards the non-custodial parent to punish or alienate him/her from the child. The general term “malicious parent syndrome” or “parental alienation syndrome” is gender-neutral – it can apply equally to the mother as well as to the father. Both father and mother are capable of being malicious parents.
In malicious father syndrome, the malicious parent is the father. A malicious father would do his best to tarnish the mother’s image in the eyes of the child and create a deep hatred for her in the child’s mind or otherwise block or interfere in her parenting.
More about the Malicious Parent Syndrome
Divorce is as stressful as it is tragic. Parents experience a gamut of emotions like anger, sadness, hostility, vengefulness, etc., while thinking about their and their children’s future. It is easy to reach the breaking point in such a situation and become destructive to set right what they feel were the wrongs committed by the other spouse in the marriage.
Using children in the custody battle to vent their frustrations is like going to the extreme because a parent’s malicious behavior may leave emotional scars on the child for life. Such malicious behavior can make the child hate the other parent, thus totally alienating the other parent from the child. In some cases, the other parent may stop contacting the child fearing that the malicious parent may continue to stress out or poison the child’s mind.
Note that malicious parent syndrome is not a mental illness – it is a pattern of destructive behavior adopted intentionally during the divorce process and its goal is either to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent or to ruin the other parent’s reputation or both.
Examples of Malicious Parent Syndrome Behavior
- Preventing the other parent from seeing the child during his visitation time
- Disturbing or interrupting the visitation of the other parent
- Cutting off access to telephonic conversations/emails/messaging between the child and the other parent
- Avoiding or stopping the other parent from participating in the child’s school events
- Badmouthing, lying about, or accusing the other parent to the child in an attempt to make the child turn against the other parent
- Badmouthing, lying about, or accusing the other parent to other people in an attempt to spoil the other parent’s reputation in society
- Stretching the child custody case so much that it breaks the other parent’s finances or tests his/her resolve
- Scheming and even causing harm to the child just to frame the other parent
- Breaking the law (for example: violating the custodial order) just to deprive the other parent of his/her visitation rights
Legal Steps to Take Against a Malicious Parent
If you have evidence, or suspect (because of the child’s behavior) that the other parent has acted maliciously, you can ask your child custody attorney to get the parenting plan modified by the courts, request court-ordered parental counseling, or request supervised visitation. The courts do not look kindly upon malicious parents.
If your evidence is compelling, you may file civil and/or criminal charges against the malicious parent. In criminal law, lying in the courts or in depositions and written testimonies amounts to perjury, not providing food to the child and blaming it on the other parent’s non-payment of spousal support is regarded as child abuse, and damaging property to frame the other parent is a straightforward criminal act.
Likewise, some of the malicious parent’s acts may be punishable in a civil case – for example, denying court-ordered visitation, defaming the other parent in society, etc.