Many family law disputes focus on children. Each parent may feel that he or she knows what is best for their child, and they may strongly disagree with the other parent’s parenting style. This can lead to heated arguments and, in some instances, parental alienation.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is the process whereby one parent manipulates a child hoping to distance that child from his or her other parent. It can be a nasty process, too, as many alienating parents will go to great lengths to keep their children to themselves. Sometimes this behavior is intentional. In others the alienating parent is simply so delusional that he or she thinks that he or she is doing what is best for the child.
How does parental alienation occur?
There are a lot of ways in which parental alienation can occur. Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting off contact between the child and the other parent so that the other parent doesn’t stay informed about what’s going on with the child. In other cases, the parent schedules fun activities for the child knowing that the activity is set to occur at the same time as the other parent’s visitation. This leaves the other parent in a position where he or she has to choose between giving up time with the child to ensure that he or she has fun or conducting the visitation and building resentment in the child.
As bad as that may sound, that’s not the worst form of parental alienation. In the most severe cases, children are led to believe that they’ve been abused or neglected by the other parent, which causes them to despise that parent and refuse visitation. The alienating parent can then use this evidence to further restrict the other parent’s access to the child, perhaps cutting them off altogether.
Signs of alienation
The symptoms of alienation can be wide-ranging. In many instances, the child constantly criticizes the alienated parent without proper justification. This disdain can stretch to members of the alienated parent’s family, too. The alienating parent, on the other hand, is shown unwavering support from the child. Also, be on the lookout for the use of phrases and language that is beyond your child’s normal vocabulary. Here, children are just repeating statements that they’ve heard from the alienating parent. You should also investigate further if your child’s behavior towards you suddenly changes for the worse.
Proving parental alienation
Fortunately, if you think that you’re being subjected to parental alienation then there are steps that you can take to bring it to a halt. Here are some actions that you can take to protect your child and your relationship with him or her:
- Ask questions when your child criticizes you
- Try talking to the other parent about why your child is behaving the way he or she is
- Document anything suspicious, including your child’s statements
- Monitor social media and take snapshots of anything pertinent
- Speak to witnesses who can attest to your parenting style, your bond with your child, as well as how your child’s other parent treats the child
- Consider a child custody evaluation
- Speak with our child’s mental health professional
Confidently navigate your child custody dispute
The future of your relationship with your child could be on the line in your child custody dispute. With that in mind, you owe it to yourself and your child to put forth the strongest legal arguments possible that support your child’s best interests. If you’d like to learn more about how you can go about doing that, then you may want to consider reaching out a skilled family law professional for assistance.