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Brazil: Parental Alienation Criminalized

(Sept. 2, 2010) On August 26, 2010, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva approved as law a bill that criminalizes parental alienation. (Alienação Parental Agora é Crime Previsto em Lei, JURID (Sept. 1, 2010),
.) Article 2 of Law No. 12,318 of July 26, 2010, defines an act of parental alienation as the interference with the psychological formation of a child or adolescent that promotes repudiation of a parent or damage to the establishment or maintenance of ties with a parent, when such an act is practiced by a parent, grandparent, those who have the child or adolescent under their authority, custody, or supervision.

The Law provides examples of parental alienation, including but not limited to:

  • waging campaigns of disparagement of a parent's behavior in the exercise of parenthood;
  • hindering the exercise of parental authority and limiting contact between the child or adolescent and the other parent;
  • making the right to have a close family life with the child or adolescent difficult;
  • deliberately omitting relevant personal information about the child or adolescent, including educational, medical, and change-of-address data, from the other parent;
  • submitting false complaints against a parent, family members, or the grandparents, preventing them from having a relationship with the child or adolescent; and
  • moving to a remote site with no explanation, in order to hamper the relationship between the child or adolescent and the other parent or the grandparents or other relatives (art. 2 (sole para.), Law No. 12,318).

Once an act of parental alienation is established, a judge may declare that it has occurred and warn the alienator; expand the regime of family life in favor of the alienated parent; fine the alienator; order counseling; change the custody to or from joint custody; or determine the setting of an interim residence for the child or adolescent (art. 6, id.).