Child custody and visitation disputes can quickly become heated. In a lot of these cases, each parent thinks that he or she knows what’s best for their child, and they’ll do anything to ensure that their parenting method is adhered to. Although many of these disputes are amicably resolved without the need for extensive court intervention, in other instances the problem becomes so severe as to be abusive to the child. This is oftentimes the case with parental alienation.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is a method of manipulation aimed at ruining the relationship between a child and his or her other parent. It can be a long, drawn-out campaign of denigration against the other parent that completely warps the child’s perceptions. In many instances, the alienating parent then uses the child’s reactions to the other parent as a justification to seek a child custody modification that further restricts that other parent’s access to the child.
How does parental alienation occur?
Alienation can take many forms. In minor cases, an alienating parent simply reinforces a false perception that the other parent doesn’t love or care about the child. Here, the alienating parent might tell the child that the other parent doesn’t love him or her or that the other parent doesn’t want to spend time with the child, even when this is blatantly false.
But parental alienation can be much more severe than that. In some cases, manipulating parents position parenting time with the other parent in a way that ensures that other parent either has to give up his or her parenting time so that the child can have fun, or take the child away from the fun activity for visitation purposes, which just upsets the child. Both of these scenarios can be extensively damaging for the relationship with the child.
Worse still are the cases where manipulated children are led to believe that they’ve been physically or emotionally abused by the other parent. Young children can be especially susceptible to this tactic, and it can be hard to rebuild a relationship once this damage has been caused.
What can you do about parental alienation?
If you’re being alienated from your child, then you might feel hopeless. But there are steps that you can take to protect your child and your relationship with him or her. To start, be on the lookout for signs of alienation, such as unrelenting and unjustifiable criticism of you along with unwavering support for the alienating parent. Language that seems borrowed from an adult can also be a telltale sign of manipulation.
Once you’ve observed signs of manipulation, you’ll want to ask pointed questions of both your child and your child’s other parent to try to figure out what’s going on. You may also want to consider speaking with other witnesses, such as neighbors, friends, and teachers, as well as seeking assistance from a mental health professional for your child. A child custody evaluation may also prove beneficial.
Don’t let parental alienation ruin your relationship with your child
Parental alienation can be devastating to your relationship with your child. But you don’t have to let it. Instead, you can be proactive in building the legal arguments that you need to take the matter to court and successfully argue that parental alienation is harming your child. This could lead to a child custody modification in your favor which, in turn, could better protect your child.
We know that these are difficult issues to tackle, which is why competent law firms like ours stand ready to assist.