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Are You A Victim of Parental Alienation?

Has your relationship with your children suddenly become strained? Do you believe your former spouse is deliberately turning your children against you? If so, you may be the target of parental alienation and should seek legal representation to protect your parental rights. While it’s true that emotions run high in divorce and custody matters, no parent has the right to unjustly and intentionally sabotage a child’s relationship with the other parent.

What is Parental Alienation?

In an ideal custody arrangement, both parents are committed to acting in the best interests of their children and share in the responsibilities and decision-making of child-rearing. Regardless of how they may feel about one another, they never interfere with their child’s relationship with the other parent. Unfortunately, family dynamics are not always this amicable.

Parental alienation occurs when one parent engages in behavior that serves to undermine or alienate a child from the other parent. Through persistent and relentless brainwashing, the child develops hostile feelings toward the targeted parent. Over time, the child may even align with the alienating parent and actively contribute to destroying their relationship with the other parent.

Parental Alienating Behaviors 

A parent can consciously or unconsciously create conflict and distance between a child and the other parent. Alienation tactics or behaviors may include:

  • Frequently using disparaging, negative and sometimes false statements to characterize the other parent
  • Sharing intimate details about the reasons for the divorce with the children
  • Blaming the other parent for breaking up the marriage
  • Asking the children to choose one parent over the other, give them a choice as to whether or not they want to visit the other parent
  • Restricting or cutting off access to children’s school or medical records, extracurricular activities
  • Making false allegations of domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • Reconstructing past events to make the child believe horrible and untrue things about the other parent
  • Intercepting mail, phone calls or presents from the other parent
  • Instilling  fear into the child that the other parent will do him or her harm
  • Acting hurt or betrayed when the child shows affection for the other parent

Reasons Why Parental Alienation Takes Place

A parent’s motivation for severing the bond between a child and the other parent can vary. Many times, a parent will use the child as a pawn to obtain a more favorable divorce or custody settlement. Other times, it’s more personal and may stem from unresolved anger or bitterness toward the other parent for perceived wrongs during the marriage. If the parent suffers from a personality disorder like narcissism or paranoia, it can make them unable to empathize with their child’s feelings or recognize the harm they’re causing to the child.

Warning Signs From Alienated Children 

Parental alienation not only has a devastating affect on the targeted parent but can have a detrimental long-term impact on the children as well. Kids caught in the crosshairs of parental alienation are more likely to develop depression, anxiety or eating disorders, perform poorly in school, struggle with self-esteem issues and have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.

Here are some of the early warning signs that your child may be

  • they have become more argumentative and combative, even rebellious
  • they know specific details regarding the divorce, blame you for the split
  • they express unease, discomfort or fear around you despite the fact that your relationship had previously been loving, positive and healthy
  • they don’t show any empathy or guilt about hurting your feelings
  • they repeat things your ex-spouse says

Fighting Against Parental Alienation in Court

Parental alienation can be considered a form of child abuse and should not be taken lightly. Irreparable damage could be done to your child and your relationship if you fail to take prompt legal action.

To prove parental alienation is taking place, a family law attorney may be able to:

  • File a motion for contempt of court against the alienating parent which can lead to the court imposing monetary sanctions on the alienating parent
  • The court can order counseling for the parent who has alienated the children and can order the parent to stop engaging in conduct that undermines the parent-child relationship
  • Seek reunification counseling and co-parent therapy — a process in which counselors work with you and your family to repair the damage and re-estabish positive and meaningful relationship with your children.
  • Seek modification to the original custody and visitation order


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