When you file for divorce in Indiana, you hope that your estranged spouse will act in good faith during the negotiations. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many parents engage in something called “malicious parent syndrome” in an attempt to punish the other parent for the divorce.
What is malicious parent syndrome?
Malicious parent syndrome is the act of one parent trying to turn their child against the other parent. If the parent has some kind of mental illness that affects their behavior, malicious parent syndrome doesn’t apply to the situation. This term properly refers to parents who are otherwise mentally healthy but who engage in malicious behaviors.
For example, the parent might refuse to let you see your child even if the judge gave you custody and visitation rights. Since you’re not in direct contact with your child, your former spouse might take the opportunity to tell lies about you. They might tell your child that you don’t love them or don’t want to see them despite all evidence to the contrary.
Your estranged spouse might also seek full custody as a way to get back at you. They might tell exaggerated stories in court and try to make you look like a bad parent. Most judges and divorce attorneys are suspicious of parents who focus on the other parent instead of themselves, but your former spouse might still get their way. In this case, your former spouse isn’t trying to act in your child’s best interests — they just want to punish you by taking your child away.
In extreme cases, your estranged spouse might even tell your child to testify against you in court. They might try to convince your child that you abused them or tell them that they have to lie to keep the family together. This puts an incredible amount of stress on you as well as your child.
Is your former spouse engaging in malicious parent syndrome?
If you suspect that your estranged spouse is trying to turn your child against you, tell your attorney as soon as possible. They may be able to come up with a way to handle the situation legally.