A New York trial court judge ordered a six weekend sentence to a woman for civil contempt, based on a finding that she had deliberately alienated her children from their father, her ex-husband, in violation of their separation agreement signed at divorce. After an extensive hearing and hours of testimony by the father, the Judge found that there were countless instances in which the wife interfered with the father’s ability to exercise his visitation rights, in addition to harsh attempts to manipulate the children into favoring their step-father over their biological father. The Judge also noted that the mother had made false claims that the father had sexually abused the children. The Judge noted that not only was this allegation completely false and harmful to the father, but also harmed the child by subjecting the minor to an unnecessary investigation by Child Protective Services, all for the mother’s own malicious motivations.
The case is still pending on appeal by the mother, so the appellate court could overturn or reduce the sentence, which in addition to jail time also included thousands of dollars of attorney’s fees to be paid by the mother. But, if the judgment isn’t overruled, this could stand as precedent for other jurisdictions to follow, at their own discretion, sending a message that malicious behavior in child custody arrangements will not be tolerated.