Can I Call CPS for Parental Alienation in Minnesota?
Parental alienation is an unfortunate reality for many divorced parents in Minnesota. When one parent deliberately tries to undermine or destroy the relationship between a child and the other parent, it causes significant emotional trauma for everyone involved.
As a targeted parent, you may be wondering if you can turn to Child Protective Services (CPS) for help in cases of parental alienation in MN.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to turn their child against the other parent through various forms of manipulation and brainwashing.
This can involve badmouthing the other parent, limiting contact between the child and the targeted parent, encouraging the child to reject the targeted parent, and other malicious behaviors. The effects of parental alienation on children can be extremely damaging, leading to hostility, feelings of guilt, depression, and damaged self-esteem.
In severe cases, children may develop what is called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). This is when the child completely refuses to have a relationship with one parent. PAS causes very traumatic emotional and psychological problems for affected children that can last well into adulthood.
How Common is Parental Alienation in MN Divorces?
Many experts believe parental alienation happens in some form in a large percentage of high-conflict divorces and custody battles in Minnesota. This is especially likely when arguments over child custody arrangements become heated.
One parent may try to strengthen their case for sole custody by manipulating the child against the other parent. When the child has a previously healthy relationship with both parents, any drastic behavior changes or refusal to see one parent should raise red flags. Noticing these signs of parental alienation means it’s time to take action.
Can CPS Help With Parental Alienation in MN?
CPS stands for Child Protective Services. This is a government agency charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of children. They have the authority to investigate claims of abuse or neglect against parents or guardians.
CPS can potentially become involved in cases of parental alienation in Minnesota. However, it’s important to understand that CPS will not always intervene, even if you call them to report alienating behaviors.
Parental alienation is often considered a form of emotional abuse. But in many cases, it may not clearly constitute abuse or neglect severe enough for CPS to step in. Having said that, CPS should still be made aware of any situation where you believe your child is being emotionally harmed by the other parent.
When Should You Call CPS About Parental Alienation?
If you think your child is experiencing severe parental alienation, it may be appropriate to contact CPS.
Signs that you need CPS involvement include:
- Your child is making extreme behavioral changes like refusing to speak to you or rejecting you entirely
- The other parent is making outrageous false accusations against you to alienate your child
- Your child reports being manipulated or pressured to reject you
- You have clear evidence the other parent is brainwashing your child against you
In these situations, CPS may be able to open an investigation, speak with the parents and child, and potentially even remove the child from the alienating parent’s custody if they see fit. Having a family law attorney can help you understand the benefits and risks of contacting CPS and whether it is prudent in your specific circumstances.
What Happens When You Call CPS About Parental Alienation?
When you call CPS to report concerns about parental alienation, they will first screen the report to decide if it warrants further investigation. If so, a CPS caseworker will contact you and the other parent to gather more information through interviews and collecting evidence.
If the caseworker uncovers evidence of alienation, they will determine if it rises to the level of emotional abuse. Depending on the severity, they may mandate counseling, parenting classes, or other interventions. In extreme cases where the child is at risk of trauma, CPS can petition the court to place them in foster care temporarily.
However, it is important to understand that CPS may not take any action if they do not consider the alienating behaviors to be abusive. Each case depends on its specifics, so try to manage expectations when contacting CPS.
What Can an Alienated Parent Do?
If CPS does not get involved, there are still some steps an alienated parent can take:
- Document the Alienation: Keep records of parenting time refused, hostile texts/emails, and other evidence showing the other parent is alienating your child.
- Seek Counseling: A family therapist can help you and your child cope with the emotional trauma and possibly reconcile.
- Enforce Your Custody Order: File for contempt if the other parent violates your visitation rights.
- Speak to Your Child: Let them know you love them unconditionally and want to mend your relationship.
- Modify Custody: Petition the court for a change in custody by proving parental alienation is harming your child.
- Join a Support Group: Connecting with other targeted parents can provide much-needed emotional support.
No matter which course of action you pursue, remember that your child’s emotional and psychological well-being must be the number one priority. With professional help and determination, reconciliation may still be possible if you can uncover and address the root causes of the alienation.
A Judge’s View on Parental Alienation in Minnesota
To understand how courts in other states view parental alienation, let’s look at Minnesota as an example. Minnesota family court judges take parental alienation very seriously when it is alleged in custody cases.
In Minnesota, alienating behaviors are considered a form of child abuse because they put the child’s emotional well-being at risk. The court will look for evidence that one parent deliberately damages the relationship between the child and the targeted parent.
Some of the factors Minnesota judges look at include:
- The child’s prior relationship with each parent before separation
- If one parent makes false allegations against the other
- Proof of brainwashing or manipulation of the child
- Any behavioral or mental health problems resulting from the alienation
If the evidence shows one parent is alienating the child, the judge can punish this behavior through various means, such as adjusted custody arrangements or supervised visitation. Their main concern is protecting the child from further emotional trauma from the alienating parent.
Should You Contact CPS About Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation can severely damage the well-being and normal development of affected children. If you have evidence that your child is being emotionally manipulated against you, it may be in your child’s best interest to report it to CPS. However, know that CPS will make their own determination about whether the alienation rises to the level of abuse.
They may not intervene if the behaviors do not meet the criteria for neglect in their view. Regardless of CPS involvement, you need to prioritize healing your relationship with your child.
With professional help from a therapist and a divorce lawyer, you can begin rebuilding that bond no matter how damaged it has become. While reporting alienation to CPS can be one option, the ultimate solutions come from communication, unconditional love, and repairing emotional wounds within your family.
At Martine Law, our Minneapolis family law attorneys can help you deal with the painful effects of parental alienation. We will stand by your side and advocate for you so that your relationship with your child can be restored. Contact us today to learn more about how our lawyers can assist you.