Home > Parents > NJ Court Determines That A Cause of Action for Parental Alienation Exists

NJ Court Determines That A Cause of Action for Parental Alienation Exists

Posted on December 3, 2008 by Sandra C. Fava


In a recent trial court opinion issued by the Superior Court in Hudson County, Judge Gallipoli recognized that parents in NJ may have a right to collect damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress when their relationships with their children are poisoned by former spouses or even grandparents who partake in alienating behaviors. 

In a November 21, 2008 trial court decision, the court recognized the right of one parent to sue another, as well as grandparents, for what is known as the intentional infliction of emotional distress.  In this particular case, the father sued the mother and maternal grandparents because they had alleged that the father sexually abused the children.  The suit alleges that the ex-wife and her parents began alienating the children from the father during the pre-divorce separation in 2006. The defendants allegedly told the children, court-appointed psychiatrists and law enforcement officials that the father was a sex addict and had molested the children in the past, the suit says.  It also says the children are afraid to sleep at their father’s home because they have been told they are in danger of being sexually abused.
The wife and her parents denied the allegations and argued in motions to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim that the Heart Balm Act had eliminated the cause of action of alienation of affection. They argued that the term “alienating the children” is what the complaint calls the alleged wrong.  Judge Gallipoli found that this claim was not a disguised claim for alienation of affections, which was banned in the state in 1935 by what is referred to as the Heart Balm Act.

This is the first time that a NJ Court has recognized the ability to bring such a claim.  A prior suit  was filed in the Morris County Superior Court but dismissed by Judge Rand on the grounds that the suit was nothing more than a disguised claim for alienation of affections.  Noting Judge Rand’s opinion in his own, Judge Gallipoli respectfully disagreed with Judge Rand’s interpretation of the decisional law in this state and found that a claim existed for these types of behaviors.  Since they are both trial court judges, Judge Rand’s opinion was not binding upon Judge Gallipoli.  Judge Gallipoli noted that the father would have to file an application in the family part seeking relief, however his claims against the maternal grandparents would proceed in the law division.

The real question remains as to how the Appellate Division and perhaps even the state Supreme Court will view claims such as these. 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  It seems contrary to notions of judicial economy, mandatory joiner and the entire controversy doctrine that the claims against the mother and her parents would be handled in separate venues. In addition, while there is precedent to bring tort actions related to a divorce in the family part, a party may have a right to a jury on these issues and the cases are often severed and sent back to the law division anyway. 

The bigger question is how a court should handle these claims in a post-judgment situation where there is not an ongoing matter and ultimate trial date pending.  While court’s can order plenary hearings post-judgment, it seems that when these issues arise post judgment, the better place for them may be in the law division. 

Also, the theory here that makes the claim viable is not that there has been an alienation of affections, but that a person’s intentional act has harmed another, where the only possible remedy for same may be money.   ERIC S. SOLOTOFF

Categories: Parents
    January 2, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    The following injustice is happening right now, in Montgomery County, Texas, under our laws & in our courts.

    I was recently massacred in a 3½ year custody battle for my 6 year old daughter.
    Convicted child molesters have more access to their children than I do.
    I have seen my daughter only 1 hour since Sept 2008 & have talked with her less.
    Calls & letters are intercepted, & I have no visitation.
    The mother secreted her 2 month and 14 month old babies 1200 miles from their father and for 15½ years, her family prevented all contact.

    The Honorable Judge Suzanne Stovall continued the case for years because the mother’s discovery was incomplete, but then suddenly signed a Final Decree, without compelling the mother’s discovery and ignoring the overwhelming certified/certifiable evidence of her violence and abuse.
    Honorable Stovall punished me with 20% + an extra $100 monthly, child support.
    She inconsistently ruled on motions, laws, or rules to favor the mother.
    My lawyers repeatedly complained that she favored the mother.
    For 3 years, I pleaded for a trial or in some way, to present a case.
    Despite 3 years of hearings, Rule 11’s, hundreds of emails, letters, & conversations, Honorable Stovall refused to compel the mother to provide discovery, yet granted the mother 2 years of continuances because her discovery was incomplete; including continuing a preferentially set trial.
    The mother & lawyers knew how devastating her discovery would be, but Honorable Stovall refused to compel production.
    She disregarded 3+ years & 300+ exhibited provable charges of Contempt against the mother, including failing to pay child support, interfering with child custody, and worse.
    I paid the jury fee and adamantly insisted on a trial, but Honorable Stovall signed a Final Decree that she knew would alienate me from my daughter.
    Perjury, forged letters, falsified evidence, unsupported, inconsistent, & unchallenged false accusations, by the mother, CPS, et al., outweighed exhaustive undisputed facts, certified evidence, sworn statements, & objective/testable/verifiable documentation, disproving the accusations, & proving neglect & abuse by the mother.
    For years, the mother has secreted our daughter to doctors, & medically mistreated her.
    For at least 15 months, the mother yo-yoed my daughter on steroids.
    But when pediatricians & specialists examined, x-rayed, diagnosed, & ordered treatment for my daughter, for a real & progressing condition, the mother refused to comply.
    The opposite diagnosis & falsified evidence of an undereducated CPS investigator, prevailed over the professionals, with Judge Stovall.
    Even with the mother’s sworn statements of medically abusing/neglecting my daughter & with the doctors corroborating records of her mistreatment, Judge Stovall took my daughter from me & placed her into the mother’s sole custody.
    The mother continues to deliberately, medically mistreat my daughter, neglects her dental care, & the high risk lifestyles exposes my daughter to diseases.
    Depositions, CISD records, Sworn statements, & other Certified & Certifiable evidence revealed an AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT FELON, wrist CUTTING, daily VIOLENCE, runaway teen, destruction, criminals, drug abuse (METH, COCAINE, XANAX, OXYCOTIN, etc), frequent police visits & a SEARCH WARRANT confiscated
    drug paraphernalia, multiple sex partners, multiple suspensions for drugs & violence, burglary, vandalism, shootings, disease, fighting, screaming, profanity, pornography (incl BEASTIALITY), boys & men sleeping over, my daughter sleeping at men’s homes, is taught obscene language & gestures & so much more.
    The mother reared her criminal teen children on SEXUALLY VIOLENT material & entertainment.
    The mother’s family and friends have threatened me at my home and away, and my property has been vandalized.
    I have received harassing, obscene, and middle of the night phone calls.
    The well paid, well insured mother has lived rent & utilities free for 3 ½ years, but claims to be deep in debt from medical expenses.
    The mother has committed tax, CHIPs, Medicaid, & insurance fraud at least since 2003.
    My debt exceeds twice my gross annual income & is increasing.
    Fees and expenses have exceeded 4 times my gross annual income.
    I have recorded nearly every contact with the mother, CPS, ad litem, & many others.
    I love and want my daughter and will never, ever, ever give up trying to rescue her.

    I can provide:
    medical & doctors records of years of mistreatment
    CPS reports of violence, drugs, medical mistreatment, etc
    psychological evaluations include lying, abuse, etc
    depositions of lying, violence, drug abuse, sex, etc
    CISD records of violence, drugs, sex, etc
    police reports of violence, drugs, shootings, etc
    myspace of violence, drug abuse, sex, pornography, etc
    emails to/from the: ad litem, psychologist, therapist

  2. Bruce Eden
    January 2, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    First, move to have the judge disqualified from the case as gender biased and incompetent. Second, file a judicial complaint against her DEMANDING removal from the bench for bias and incompetency. Third, contact your state legislators who put the judge in office and DEMAND they oust this judge for judicial misconduct/official misconduct. This would constitute Impeachable offenses under Texas criminal law. You will have to push your representatives to initiate Impeachment proceedings against this judge (having a number witnesses/friends/ family/voters in the representatives’ offices with you would be of great help). The lower house of the legislature will take a complaint for impeachment. The upper house (or Senate) will try the Impeachment.

    Fourth, if you can afford it–APPEAL the judge’s decision on grounds that she egregiously abused her discretion, violated the rules and the law and was gender biased, capricious and arbitrary in her ruling. Her ruling is so far wide of the mark as to be beyond reality. This judge has an agenda and should not be sitting on the bench. She does not have the competency, demeanor or impartiality to be a sitting judge.

    If you don’t do these things to get rid of the judge, I’m afraid you won’t have much luck with your custody/parenting time issues either.

    Bruce Eden, Civil Rights Director
    DADS (Dads Against Discrimination)–New Jersey & New York

  3. mkg4583
    January 3, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    A cause of action for alienation of affection is recognized by most states, the recent addition of Parental Alienation is continuing case law action that promises more good results for children that are kidnapped / abducted through false allegations in custody cases.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    Thank you for your comments.

    I had only 7 days to file an appeal after receiving the Final Decree; not enough time.
    In Texas, Judges are elected.
    She apparently is retiring soon.
    I am preparing the entire case and will be sending it to
    appellate courts over her
    Tx Supreme Court
    Tx Attorneys General
    Tx State Bar
    Tx Judicial Review Board
    Tx Board of Examiners of Psychologists
    several others including Representatives and a mal-practice attorney
    Though I have not yet been officially notified, there is supposed to be a Hearing before Jan 30, 2010 probably to officially remove me from my daughter’s life.


  5. M
    June 30, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    My son’s mother has been doing this to me since he could talk. I feel like I have no hope in finding legal aid to find a resolution for this. Not only have they alienated me from my son but they scammed the court system and stole $28,800 from funds that should have been part of his child support. I contacted the Atlantic County prosecutor’s office but I was told the statute of limitations to go after them criminally has passed and that I should sue them in a civil lawsuit. No matter if that money is returned to my son’s funds the damage they created that ruined my relationship with him will never be repaired. What is a father to do, I only tried to help and got dragged through a nightmare.

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