What is parental alienation, and could your child be suffering from it?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | Family Law And Divorce

In an ideal world, after a divorce, a previously married couple should be able to put aside their differences for the sake of their children. It is important that both parties still present a united front as parents to promote a sense of normalcy and consistency in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, this may not be the case, especially for ex-couples who had a bitter divorce.

Fostering resentment and negative emotions for an ex-spouse may be dangerous. Even after going separate ways, you and your ex might be stuck in an endless loop of retaliation and may resort to dirty tactics to hurt each other, such as parental alienation.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation happens when your child refuses to have a relationship with you due to manipulation by the other parent. They may do this by conveying exaggerated or false information. While this may be common during a divorce or custody battle, it can also happen within intact families.

Parental alienation drives a wedge between you and your child. Courts consider this malicious act as a form of child psychological abuse.

What are the signs of parental alienation?

Like other forms of psychological abuse, parental alienation ranges from mild to more severe cases. In mild cases, your child may be reluctant to spend time with you. They may initially throw a tantrum at the prospect of being with you but might enjoy spending time with you once they are in your care.

You may expect more aggressive behavior in moderate cases of parental alienation. They may still show displeasure despite spending time with you. They may be vocal about not wanting to be with you and be on edge when they are in your company.

In extreme cases, your child might display vitriol and may be openly hostile. They may blame you for their misery and suffering. It may seem like you can do nothing to cheer them up. They may not be happy until they are away from you.

In all three cases, hostility may come quickly and out of nowhere. There may be no apparent triggers.

What you can do

Parental alienation does not only jeopardize your relationship with your child, it also causes unnecessary suffering for both of you. Seeking advice from an experienced attorney may help you understand your rights and legal options.