In 2015, Mother filed an emergency motion to modify the parenting plan to obtain primary custody. Mother attached copies of text messages sent between Father and the oldest child during Mother’s parenting time. Among other things, Father told the children Mother “Doesn’t mind to cause pain for others”, is “Mentally ill”, “Nobody likes her” and that the children “Have a right to be ugly to her".
The trial court appointed a forensic psychologist to examine the parties and the children. The psychologist ultimately concluded that the children were alienated from Mother, and that the alienation was supported by the actions and statements of Father. The psychologist explained: “The parent who is supporting the alienation, whether this is their intent or not, is effectively supporting the child in cruel, unempathetic behavior towards another human being; they are supporting the child in attitudes and behaviors towards interpersonal conflict that emphasize rejection, separation, and polarization, rather than resolution.”
• The trial court found this to be a “Case Of Severe Parental Alienation” in which Father had actively supported the children’s alienation from Mother without reasonable cause.
• The trial court ruled it was in the children’s best interest that custody be changed, and the trial court designated Mother as the primary residential parent with sole decision-making authority.
• The trial court also ordered Father to pay for Mother and children to attend a program designed to provide a therapeutic remedy for parental alienation.
• Father was also prohibited from having any contact with the children for at least 90 days so they could complete the therapeutic program.
The Father appealed and the Tennessee Court of Appeals agreed with the original judgment.
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