In far too many divorce cases, custody disputes are more about power than anything else. This is problematic because it forces your child’s best interests to take a backseat. Although the court should see right through these powerplays and issue a custody order that protects your child’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being, all too often, even judges are tricked into making the wrong decision.
This tends to be the case in instances of parental alienation. That’s why it’s critically important that you educate yourself about this form of abuse and what you can do to bring it to light in court. After all, if you don’t point it out, your child might be irreparably harmed, and your relationship with them might be devastated.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is a manipulative process through which one parent molds a child’s belief in a way that wrecks their relationship with the other parent. In many instances of parental alienation, the alienating parent then uses the child’s behavior as a justification to seek a more restrictive custody order. This could result in you having only supervised parenting time with your child, or you may be blocked from communicating with them altogether.
How does parental alienation occur?
There are lot of tactics that a parent can use to alienate their child. This includes:
- Lying to the child about the other parent’s attempts to contact the child
- Withholding information from the other parent about the child’s medical appointments and extracurricular activities
- Sharing intimate and painful details of the parents’ marriage
- Leading the child to believe that they’ve been abused or neglected by the other parent at some point in the past
- Fabricating stories that paint the other parent in a poor light
There are a lot of other ways that alienation can occur, too. What’s important to remember is that your child’s other parent has a lot of opportunities to hurt you and your child, so you need to be vigilant and take action when warranted.
Signs of parental alienation
If you’re observant, you should be able to spot signs of parental alienation. This might include any of the following:
- Hurtful criticism of you that seems incessant
- Unwavering support for the other parent
- The use of language that exceeds your child’s age or otherwise seems borrowed from someone else
- The recitation of false facts
If you see anything else out of the ordinary, you might want to talk to your child and your child’s other parent to see if you can gain a clearer sense of what’s going on.
What can you do if parental alienation is occurring?
If you suspect that parental alienation is occurring, you need to take action. A mental health professional might be able to assess your child and the other parent to determine if alienating behavior is taking place. And, truth be told, you’re probably going to need an expert to help you demonstrate that alienation is harming your child.
But you should also make sure that you’re documenting events that are indicative of alienation. So, consider keeping a journal of all instances that are problematic so that you can later address them with your attorney and the court.
Don’t let parental alienation harm your child
Although it might not seem like it, you can stop alienation and repair the damage that’s been caused. To do so, you’re going to need to take legal action in the form of a custody modification. If you want to maximize your chances of succeeding on that request, you’re going to need strong evidence, perhaps even including an expert witness.
That’s why before you proceed with your alienation-related modification request, you should ensure that you have a full understanding of parental alienation and how to craft the compelling legal arguments that you need on your side.