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Allegations of Domestic Violence vs Allegations of Parental Alienation

This article compares the family court’s approach to domestic violence and parental alienation in New York and Ontario.

Based on my own experiences in NY Court, allegations of domestic violence are given a high degree of attention from the courts, while allegations of parental alienation are frequently less of a priority. Conversely, according to this article, allegations of parental alienation are given a high degree of attention from the Ontario courts while allegations of domestic violence often take a back seat.

I do not know whether this is, in fact, true or whether it merely reflects the biases of the contributors to this article. However, the author clearly comes out against joint custody as a default decision of family court.

I agree with one major point in the article – that very early in the proceedings in both Ontario and NY, family courts should try and sort out which allegations of domestic violence and parental alienation are true and which ones are false as soon as possible.

The article states that the courts in Ontario have a preconceived bias toward joint custody, and about other forms of abuse such as verbal, emotional and financial abuse of a spouse, which the author believes should form the basis for denying joint custody.

While domestic violence is very relevant in determining custody, it is my opinion that verbal, emotional and financial abuse of one’s spouse may not always require such a drastic decision to deny joint custody, which will have significant impact on the children. Rather, parents who are unable to communicate with one another civilly may be directed by the court to utilize online applications, such as Family wizard, which is designed to facilitate communications between divorced or separated parents, and provides them with a collaborative way to manage details that come with shared parenting. Another alternative can be for the court to require parents to attend parenting education classes.

One might ask: when does an argument cross the threshold where it becomes abuse and therefore the basis for denying joint custody? Ultimately, the goal is for the courts to approach each case with an open mind, and to find the right balance between protecting spouses and children from harm and protecting the rights of parents and their children to have a meaningful relationship with one another.