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What is parental alienation?

Feb 2, 2021 | Divorce, Parent Alienation

Children should never have to choose between their parents but unfortunately when parents separate or divorce that’s often exactly what happens. Some parents make this even harder on the child by trying to ruin the child’s relationship with the other parent through parent alienation tactics.

Parental Alienation is a phrase used to define the psychological manipulation of children that causes them to reject one parent over the other. Parental alienation can occur when one parent sets out to destroy the other parent’s relationship with the child by condemning the other parent, by raising false claims of abuse against the other parent, by restricting the child’s contact with the other parent, and/or by removing the other parent’s identity from the child’s name.  When a parent points out the other parent’s negative qualities, or ridicules that other parent in front of his or her child, that may cause serious disruptions to parenting time and can damage either or both parents’ bond with the child. Parental alienation can have long-lasting detrimental effects upon not only the child, but upon the other parent as well.  It can become difficult and even impossible to repair the damage caused by parental alienation if the problem is not addressed swiftly and successfully.  Love your children enough to avoid the dangerous pitfalls of parental alienation.

  • If you believe you’re being alienated by an ex-spouse there are some small steps you can take to maintain a positive relationship with your child.
  • Have a conversation with your ex. You may not be able to agree on much but your child’s mental health should be a priority. See if you can come to an agreement about the types of conversations you do and do not have when children are present.  Agree with one another that neither of you will do anything to cause harm to your children’s relationship with the other parent.
  • Call or send notes or text messages during the other parent’s parenting time to remind your child that you are thinking about them and love them.
  • Remember important dates like your children’s birthday and holidays. Do your best to visit on those days if possible and if your parenting plan allows for that.
  • Try to stay up to date with how your child is doing in school, sports, and other activities. Stay engaged.
  • Request counseling. Your child may need an impartial third party to help identify which feelings are theirs and which feelings are coming from something they have simply overheard. Having an outsider’s opinion may be helpful for you too.
  • Avoid retaliation. It is important for children to see examples of healthy co-parenting after divorce or after the separation of unmarried parents.

If parental alienation continues to be a problem, you may need to take legal action to modify an existing child custody order.  You may even need to hire a parental alienation expert to evaluate the situation if the alienation in your case is severe and is destroying your relationship with your child.  It is important in these cases to have an experienced and caring attorney on your side. We can help identify, record and fight against the harmful effects of parental alienation. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation about your case.

Pangerl Law Firm P.L.L.C. focuses on divorce, child custody, mother’s and father’s rights, child support, and all other areas of family law, as well as personal injury claims. Our office is located in Deer Valley and serves the greater Phoenix area, including the communities of Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Anthem, New River, North Phoenix and Phoenix. For more information, call: 602-942-6200.