Has your child suddenly and unexpectedly turned against you? Does he or she constantly criticize you without justification? Does he or she show unwavering support to his or her other parent? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then parental alienation may be warping your child’s perspective of you, thereby damaging your relationship with him or her. That’s why if you find yourself in this situation you should have an understanding of parental alienation and how to address it in court. After all, that may be the only way to protect your child’s best interests and your relationship with him or her.
How parental alienation occurs
Alienating parents can get creative in how they manipulate their children, but there are usually some common themes. In short, any action that seeks to program the child to dislike his or her other parent and thereby create distance between the two can be considered alienating behavior. In many instances, this alienation takes the form of telling the child false or misleading information about the other parent so as to create anger and resentment. For example, a child may be told that the other parent doesn’t love him or her, or that the other parent never calls when the opposite is true. Even information pertaining to marital infidelity could be used to manipulate your child.
But the alienating behavior doesn’t end there. A parent may act in an overly aggressive fashion when it comes to his or her gatekeeping role, thereby cutting the other parent out of the child’s life. In other instances, young children are led to believe that they’ve been subjected to abuse or neglect at the other parent’s hands. Sometimes the alienating parent intentionally schedules events that the child is then forced to miss when he or she goes on visitation with the alienated parent. As you can see, there are a lot of ways that alienation can occur.
What you can do about alienation
Your relationship with your child probably means everything to you. As a result, the stakes can be high when dealing with a child custody dispute. The outcome of one of these disagreements can have profound consequences for your child and your relationship with him or her. Yet, even if you aggressively fight to protect your child’s best interests, the initial order that comes out of your child custody determination might not settle the issue for good. In these circumstances, a child custody modification may be warranted.
Fortunately, family courts around the country are becoming more receptive to arguments pertaining to alienation. You just have to gather the evidence needed to support your position. While your observations and statements made by the child and the child’s other parent are certainly helpful, you’ll likely need expert testimony to draw a link between your child’s behavior and alienation. A mental health professional who has evaluated your child can be especially beneficial, too. What’s important to remember is that you have to be thorough here and ensure that you have the best evidence possible to show that alienation is occurring.
Don’t give up on your relationship with your child
Parental alienation can cause extensive harm to the parent-child relationship. But it’s not too late to salvage your relationship and strongly build it back to where it was before the alienation occurred. This is where services like reunification therapy may be helpful. However, before you get to that point, you have to bring alienation to a halt and secure the child custody arrangement that best protects your child.