Can an unemployed alienated parent be forced to help pay for a car for the child?

First, unless there is a statute or court order that requires a parent to purchase a car for a child, or that requires both parents to share the costs of purchasing a car for a child, it’s unlikely that a court could order a parent to purchase a car for a child or even to pay a portion of the costs of a car for a child.

In some jurisdictions, mine included, it might be possible, in the absence of an already existing statute or court order requiring a parent or parents to purchase a car for a child, to obtain a court order requiring that one parent or both parents purchase a car for a child, if it could be shown that the child needs a car to survive or perhaps to pursuant education and is unable to obtain that car without the parent(s) purchasing it.

You’ll notice to this point that I haven’t even mentioned the issue of parental alienation. This was intentional. And that is because 1) courts are reluctant to consider, much less acknowledge, the existence of parental alienation; and 2) even if a parent might be engaging in parental alienation, it’s hard to see how that issue could affect whether the child needs or does not need a car.

It may (may) be a valid argument that if a parent is alienating a child from the other parent, then it is fair to punish the alienating parent (or even the alienated child) by having the alienating parent bear all the costs of certain expenses for the alienated child (which punishment we also hope will motivate the alienating parent to stop alienating the child from the other parent and, under the right circumstances, motivate the child to stop giving the other parent the cold shoulder, i.e., if you want Mommy or Daddy to buy you things, then quit treating Mommy and Daddy like crap).

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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