As some New Jersey parents have discovered, fighting for custody when there are allegations of abuse is often an emotional, lengthy and costly process that is surrounded by mistaken perceptions. While it is often thought that courts favor mothers in these cases, the data suggests that fathers are actually the ones who seem to be favored in cases where abuse on the part of the father is alleged and where the father claims parental alienation.
Parental alienation involves one parent doing and saying things that might make the child hostile towards the other parent. In cases where a parent is accused of abuse, the parent might claim parental alienation, suggesting that the other parent might have coached or guided the child to say abuse was going on. However, some experts say that parental alienation is not as common as many people think. One judge said she has never seen a real, substantiated case of parental alienation. Instead, she said, judges might be unconsciously acting based on their own experiences and culture, which until recently did not take domestic abuse seriously.