Can the Claim of Parental Alienation Protect Abusers?

Though not a new term, parental alienation is quickly gaining recognition in courts nationwide. Arkansas, in particular, has taken a strong stance against parental alienation, passing laws like SB18. 

SB18 establishes a rebuttable presumption of joint custody, ensuring equal parenting time and requiring clear and convincing evidence to overcome this presumption.

Unfortunately, the world has unscrupulous people, and some of them exploit these protections against parental alienation — which legally places children in the hands of dangerous individuals.


What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent (the alienating parent) tries to manipulate or undermine the relationship between the child and the other parent (the target parent). 

This manipulation can manifest in various ways, such as speaking negatively about the other parent, limiting contact, or making false abuse allegations. You can learn more about parental alienation here.


How Do People Abuse the System?

Abusers are not known for their morals, so it’s not unheard of for abusive parents to take advantage of the parental alienation claim to gain custody or visiting time of their children.

For example, a study found that dozens of children are forced into contact with fathers accused of abuse. In some cases of this research, BBC found fathers were convicted pedophiles — and yet they were allowed custody or visitation with their children. And, in all cases, these fathers claimed parental alienation in the court to gain these rights. 



Another case involves a son and his stepfather, who he claimed was sexually abusive. A judge gave the stepfather custody anyway, putting the child in direct harm’s way. 

There are plenty more awful cases like these, and to prevent them, it is time for all courts to believe children who make these claims so serious investigations can happen. 


What if You Suspect Abuse or Your Child Says They’re Being Abused?

Even if you have your doubts, always believe your child if they report inappropriate behavior by another parent. 

Research indicates that false allegations of abuse by children are rare. Additionally, disbelief or skepticism about the child’s claims can further traumatize the child and discourage them from speaking out, which could leave them vulnerable to continued abuse.



Arkansas has excellent joint custody laws but requires appropriate reporting to protect children from abuse. If you suspect or a child reports abuse in Arkansas, take immediate action by calling the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964 or (844) SAVEACHILD123. Mandated reporters can submit reports online at the official website.

Provide plenty of information about the child, alleged abuser, and abuse nature when reporting. And as always, if there is an immediate emergency, contact local law enforcement or dial 911 before reaching out to the hotline.


Hickey & Hull Law Partners Can Protect Your Family

Hickey & Hull Law Partners bring years of experience in family law, specifically in cases involving parental alienation and related claims.

Whether you simply have questions or are dealing with significant concerns, our committed team is here to support you. Safeguarding your children is our top priority.Don’t hesitate: Chat, fill out our online form, or contact us today to get a free consultation. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.