Parental alienation occurs when one parent unjustifiably manipulates a child to dislike or mistrust the other parent after separation or a divorce to the point the relationship with the other parent is soured. The result is often that kids blame the other parent for the divorce and don’t want to spent time with the alienated parent. Parental alienation is not in the best interests of the children and can be devastating for the targeted parent.
Unfortunately the parent creating parental alienation often does so using subtle tactics. If the parent being alienated responds emotionally and not strategically, a judge may see an argumentative parent overacting and lashing out at their ex-spouse instead of someone who has been treated unfairly and deserves better.
Judges get tired of seeing parents bickering. If you do not carefully present evidence and craft your arguments, you may come across as contributing to the problem. You want a strategy that involves gathering evidence that supports your case and hiring an experienced lawyer who can present your arguments in a professional and effective manner.
The courts frown upon parental alienation. If you can show your ex-spouse is interfering with your relationship with your children this could help you in a custody dispute. For example, if the other parent is not allow you to have agreed upon or court ordered access to your child, the court may interpret the other parent as not acting in the child’s best interest and order a change in custody arrangements. Similarly, if your ex-spouse is telling your chid lies about you, this may be relevant in a custody dispute.
If you feel you are the victim of parental alienation, work with your lawyer to gather evidence. Discuss the problems you see and ask for an honest opinion of how the courts may respond. There are warning signs of parental alienation that should trigger a discussion with a lawyer. For example, if you child suddenly does not want to visit.
However, you do not want to assume a moody child has necessarily been brainwashed by your ex-spouse. Understandably, children of divorce will have issues to deal with that they take out on their parents. Many teenagers who start being difficult and turn against a parent are doing so because of adolescent angst, not the result of parental alienation. It is important to get an independent assessment of if your child’s behavior is consistent with parental alienation. If your child is not acting out as a result of parental alienation, accusing your ex-spouse could cause stress for your child, sabotaging your child’s relationship with your ex and also ruin your relationship with your child.