Parental Alienation Impacts Child Support and College Payment Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Today, we’re going to focus on alienation as it specifically affects a divorced parent’s legal responsibility to help their child pay for college expenses.
During this groundbreaking time of the Coronavirus pandemic, co-parents everywhere are navigating new challenges to parenting time agreements in New Jersey. To properly address quarantines, curfews, and other restrictions that may impact our capacity to uphold our parenting time agreements, it is important to educate ourselves about the current laws in New Jersey surrounding custody arrangements and co-parenting. We do so to ensure that our actions and any revisions to the court-ordered agreements we make are within the scope of legality. If changes to parenting time agreements are necessary, we can contact our attorneys for support. We also do so to understand our legal options in the case that the financial and emotional instability caused by the pandemic adversely impacts our relationships with our exes, creating tension or downright conflict.
One custody and child support, a law that does not apply to the vast majority of co-parents – but that may arise as an issue for some high-conflict parents during this testy time – is parental alienation.
What is alienation?
New Jersey law defines parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse. It is a custodial parent’s manipulation of a child by vilifying the other parent. The purpose of this defamation is to turn the child against the other parent. The effects of this kind of action can be lasting. Psychologists have labeled Parental Alienation Syndrome as a harmful physical and psychological estrangement that can have lasting socio-emotional effects. Edward Kruk, Ph.D., writer for Psychology Today, wrote,
“For a child, the biopsychosocial-spiritual effects of parental alienation are devastating. For both the alienated parent and the child, the removal and denial of contact in the absence of neglect or abuse constitute cruel and unusual treatment…. As a form of maltreatment, parental alienation is a serious child protection matter, as it undermines a basic principle of social justice for children: the right to know and be cared for by both of one’s parents.”
As a result of the severe impact parental alienation can have on a child, New Jersey courts are tightening their approach to dealing with parents who engage in parental alienation techniques. One of the primary ways is adjusting the timeline for which the non-custodial parent is required to paying child support and even shifting their requirement to help pay for their child’s college education.
What is New Jersey law regarding college support?
According to New Jersey law, each parent must financially support their unemancipated child’s college education. During the divorce and custody proceedings, the arrangements for this support, which is considered part of child support payments, are made as part of the divorce resolution. Those arrangements are sometimes simply named in a custody agreement or laid out specifically in financial terms. Most agreements layout that the college selection process will involve both parents.
In the case of parental alienation, one example of which was the New Jersey Appellate Division ruling on Weinman v. Weinman, a judge can overturn a parent’s requirement to pay child support past the age of 18 and contribute to the college fund if they have been effectively alienated from the child’s life over the course of the divorce.
In Weinman v. Weinman, the mother had pressed estrangement of her children from their father over many years through parental alienation tactics. During repeated and documented occasions, the father had attempted to participate in his children’s lives, in addition to abiding by the required child support payments. Because of the mother’s impact on the children, the children did not accept the father or his attempts to participate in the college decision-making process when the time came.
A New Jersey Family Court found that, due to the documented parental alienation that had taken place estranging the father from his children, he was not required to support his otherwise unemancipated children through college. The New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the ruling.
Retain a Wall Township Parental Alienation Lawyer Today
If, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, you cannot see your child and you sense that parental alienation tactics are being used to estrange you from your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified attorney today. They can help you navigate the situation to salvage your relationship with your child before it is too late or seek legal retribution for emotional abuse.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys’ team is skilled at handling parental alienation issues across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall, Sea Girt, and Brick.