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Brandon Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > What is Malicious Parent Syndrome?

What is Malicious Parent Syndrome?


Ending a marriage is never easy but when a divorce involves children, it can become even more contentious. Afterwards, even though a legal dispute may be resolved, people often still hold onto feelings of bitterness and resentment. Sometimes, they may even use their children as a way to hurt their former spouse. In extreme cases, one parent may even exhibit malicious parent syndrome. Below, our Brandon child custody attorney explains further.

Understanding Malicious Parent Syndrome 

The term ‘malicious parent syndrome’ was created by Dr. Ira Turkat, who is a psychologist that also identified the symptoms of it and specific behaviors one may exhibit. Malicious parent syndrome may be present when the custodial parent deliberately interferes with the non-custodial parent’s relationship with their child. Merely feeling resentful after a child custody dispute is not enough. Some examples that may indicate malicious parent syndrome include:

  • The custodial parent tries to alienate the children from the other parent, and may even try to use the courts or other people in doing so.
  • The custodial parent interferes or prohibits communication between the child and the non-custodial parent, including visitation.
  • The custodial parent dishonestly tells the child things about the other parent, such as that they do not love the child. Custodial parents also sometimes lie to other people or organizations, such as the child’s school.

Clearly, malicious parent syndrome hurts the non-custodial parent. However, it also hurts everyone else in the family.


How Does Malicious Parent Syndrome Hurt the Family?


When one parent is affected by malicious parent syndrome, it is detrimental to all members of the family. The parent who is being alienated from their child will suffer because they will not be able to maintain their relationship and bond with them. The parent who is engaging in malicious behavior, though, will also suffer.

The courts in Florida generally believe that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain a relationship with both parents. When one parent interferes with the other’s ability to do this, the court does not look kindly on it. If the non-custodial parent can prove the alienation, the court may modify a custody order to allow the alienated parent more time with the child. If the custodial parent has violated a court order, they may even be held in contempt of court.

Sadly, malicious parent syndrome is most damaging to the child. Children benefit from having two parents they can rely on for support, encouragement, and guidance. When they cannot spend time with one, particularly if they are being told dishonest and untrue things about the part, a child may even think it is their fault. If a child learns of the custodial parent’s behavior, it can also make them feel resentful and mistrustful of them.

Our Child Custody Attorney in Brandon Can Explain the Next Steps 

If you have had a child custody dispute and now your former spouse is not acting fairly, our Brandon child custody attorney can help. At Koether Law, our seasoned attorney knows the steps to take when a parent refuses to comply with a court order, and can help make things right between you and your child. Call us now at 813-347-8193 or contact us online to book a consultation.




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