Parents should know better than to involve their children in parental disputes. After all, whatever the reasons for the breakdown of the parents’ relationship; it isn’t the kid’s fault. For some, unfortunately, weaponizing their child’s affection presents too easy a target to resist. When this happens, the victim is the child. In Minnesota, the law’s response to such conduct, is to take away the offending parent’s rights to their child.
Minnesota courts recently issued a decision on this point; which serves as a sad but useful lesson in Minnesota Child Custody law. Here’s a summary.
In an effort to assuage their ongoing quarrel over how to raise their children, the parents in question resorted to employing a team of experts, including:
- a custody evaluator;
- a psychologist;
- an out-of-state residential treatment facility; and
- a ‘special master’ (a neutral person who is hired by parties to hear their disputes, much like a Judge).
Each one of these third parties were employed for one purpose – to help the parents co-parent their children. But in the end, it was not enough.
The problem was the children’s apparent ‘hatred’ of their mother; and their willingness to go to extreme measures to get away from her. On one occasion they left her home after midnight and rode their bikes nearly ten miles, during a thunderstorm, to return to the father. They ran away a second time and then told the police they were being ‘abused’ in their mother’s home. When they refused to go back to their mother, the police had to place them in temporary foster care.
According to the third-party experts employed by the parents, in particular the psychologist, the problem was the father’s ongoing efforts to negatively affect the children’s relationship with the mother. The children were led to believe by the father, that they had to do what he wanted, or they would ‘lose him’. He led his children to believe they could not love both of their parents.
The mother asked the court to help; which the court did, by permanently removing the children from the father’s care and granting custody rights to the mother. In granting the decision, the court explained that the father’s behavior was detrimental to the children’s relationship with mother, it was not in the children’s best interests to be in contact with him, and the father endangered their emotional development. In a case where a child’s emotional health is at risk, courts have the authority to restrict or suspend parenting time, and to change custody.
When faced with the risk of emotional endangerment caused by a parent’s efforts to undermine your child’s relationship with you, it is important to seek legal advice. The law affords you a remedy to protect your child from such harmful behavior.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.