During a child custody case in West Virginia, one parent may accuse the other of some kind of physical abuse. However, the other parent may come with a counterclaim that the allegation is nothing more than an attempt at parental alienation. The theory is that a parent is creating a narrative in an effort to keep the other parent away from the child.

Research does indicate that claims of parental alienation can influence the outcome of a child custody case. One study found that 44% of fathers who made parental alienation claims won custody of their children from the mothers. Conversely, women who made claims of parental alienation took custody of their children from their fathers on 28% of the time.

If a mother claimed that a father was abusive, he was twice as likely to obtain custody of a child by rebutting that assertion with an allegation of parental alienation. Furthermore, the father won custody of his children in 13% of cases in which abuse allegations were proven. Researchers believe that these results could be attributed to judges relying too much on a desire to ensure that both parents have access to their children.

A divorce may require parents to agree on issues such as child support, parenting time and property division. An attorney could help an ex-spouse negotiate a favorable agreement that also preserves the children’s best interests. Legal counsel may also guide a parent who is the victim of abuse or who believes that their children could be victims of abuse. A client could potentially obtain a restraining order until a judge can make a permanent ruling.