Published on:

Parental Alienation 

by Carolyn Woodruff, attorney

What is the best way to get your visitation suspended? Alienate your child or attempt to alienate your child from the other parent.

A case that was filed September 18, 2018, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals illustrates this tragic error on the part of the mother. See Sneed vs. Sneed. The plaintiff, the father, is Jason M. Sneed. The defendant mother is Charity A. Sneed. The case is originally from Mecklenburg County. I must admit, I find Charity an interesting name for the mother, given her conduct.

Father, learning of the mother’s adultery, served a complaint for child custody on the mother in North Carolina, and mother immediately removed the children to South Carolina against father’s wishes and cut off all conduct with the father. Father petitioned the trial court to grant a temporary and exclusive emergency custody order, which ordered the mother to return the children to North Carolina. Upon the mother’s return, the parties agreed between themselves to an alternating week of physical custody. When the mother continued to refuse to comply with the agreed-upon schedule, the father then filed a custody evaluation motion to have a psychologist look at this situation. This mother also homeschooled the children and the father alleged that she was alienating the children from the father and that the father’s relationship was continuing to deteriorate.

The court ordered the family to attend Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent/Child Relationships.

The mother at the trial sought to exclude the psychologist custody evaluation, so we can only guess how bad that was for mother. The court ordered the parents to discuss school choice but gave the father the final decision-making authority. The court also temporarily suspended mother’s visitation rights. The mother appealed, saying that the custody evaluation should not have been introduced into evidence and that her visitation should not have been suspended for alienation.

The custody evaluation of Dr. Shelton included many parts, such as interviews with the parents, parent/child observations, interviews with the children, psychological testing of the parents, and collateral information from third parties familiar with the family. Dr. Shelton then wrote a report. The court of appeals said that it was proper for the court to consider Dr. Shelton’s custody evaluation report.

Now, with regard to mother’s suspension of her visitation. Mother had acted as a “gatekeeper” or a parent who exerts control and access to the other parent. The court also found that mother used homeschooling as a weapon to diminish the relationship between the minor child and the father. Mother apparently had also signed the children up for Liberty Preparatory Academy with father’s electronic signature that he knew nothing about.

The bottom line is that the court of appeals affirmed mother’s suspension of visitation for her alienating behaviors. Remember, children need both parents!