Parental alienation occurs when one parent strives to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent through emotional manipulation, denying parental access and other means of control. Although it can be difficult to prove alienation in court, careful documentation can help you create a case if you have concerns that the other parent is purposefully turning your child against you.
Protect your healthy relationship with your children by understanding the signs of parental alienation and the emotional, practical and legal remedies.
What are the signs of parental alienation?
Behavioral changes are common when children are in a stressful situation such as divorce. However, parental alienation may be present if you notice the following indicators:
- Significant change in your child’s attitude toward you
- Knowledge of specific, intimate details of the separation and divorce
- Frequent canceled or blocked contact or visitation despite an established parenting plan
- Negative comments about you in front of the child, including laying blame for the split
What steps should I take if the other parent is alienating my child from me?
Although you may feel helpless when feel that your relationship with your child has deteriorated, you do have recourse. Take these steps to prevent further damage:
- Document all instances of potential alienation. When you notice the signs above, note the details along with the date and include any background documentation, such as a text or email canceling a visit.
- Avoid responding to negativity from your children with hostility. Remember that they need your love and support even if the relationship becomes temporarily difficult.
- Talk to the other parent respectfully about your concerns. If you are not on good terms, consider having a mediator or counselor present. Focus on the negative impact of alienation on your children’s emotional well-being and self-esteem.
- Seek court remedy. If alienation persists after counseling or mediation, you can sue for a modification of custody.
If alienation continues, the other parent can be found in contempt of court. Protecting yourself from this tactic can help you preserve the precious relationship with your child even after the relationship with his or her other parent ends.