What is Parental Alienation?

December 9, 2020

Children react to divorce in different ways. Some children enjoy getting to be with both parents on opposite weeks, adapting well to new child custody arrangements. Other children stop wanting to spend time with one parent, irrespective of whether that parent is the custodial or non-custodial parent. Though this can be a normal behavioral response to a major change in family circumstances, it can also be an indicator of parental alienation.

Parental alienation is when one parent creates an environment in which the children stop wanting to spend time with the other parent. For instance, a non-custodial father may talk disparagingly about the children’s custodial mother. Over time, the children may not to stay with their mother because of their father’s comments. Though their mom did nothing wrong, they may feel that in order to keep a stronger relationship with their father, they must disavow their mother.

Parental alienation is something that needs to be dealt with immediately; otherwise, it can lead to long-term problems for the children. Additionally, it builds a wedge that makes healthy co-parenting impossible.

What are Some Issues Related to Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation can cause emotional trauma. A child can end up blaming themselves later in life for not getting close to the other parent. On the other hand, they may start to resent the parent who caused the alienation, especially when they become old enough to understand the situation. A child could also end up losing a lot of quality time with both parents. Parental alienation further complicates life after divorce.

How Does Parental Alienation Happen?

A parent may start making rude comments about the other parent. A parent who constantly talks about how terrible the other parent is can make the children feel they have to choose between the two parents. In fact, some parents actually will ask children to pick their favorite parent, which puts unfair pressure on the children to take sides.

A parent may also cause alienation by making sure that they are doing fun activities when the children are supposed to be with the other parent. This makes the children feel like they are missing out by going to the other parent’s house. Similarly, a parent may make it hard on the children to go to the other parent’s home for a few days by showing overly strong emotions, like excessive crying or outbursts of anger. To avoid making one parent feel bad, the child may stop seeing the other parent.

How can an Alienated Parent Regain a Relationship with Their Children?

An alienated parent may feel that they have no options; however, they can re-establish a healthy relationship with their children. An alienated parent should be patient with their children. If they have a child custody plan that affords them time with their children, they should push for the time that they deserve. Additionally, an alienated parent should continue to call their children, send them cards, text them, remember special occasions, and stay involved.

Can the Court Stop Parent Alienation from Occurring?

When one parent is being alienated after a divorce, the court will not necessarily intervene. Nevertheless, an alienated parent should always feel free to call a knowledgeable lawyer to discuss matters. In extreme cases of parental alienation, such as one parent trying to relocate to a far-away city or state, the alienated parent may want to push for a change in a child custody agreement. This type of petition to the court can be handled by a lawyer.

Moorestown Child Custody Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Forge Healthier Co-Parenting Arrangements

Do you feel as if you are the victim of parental alienation after your divorce? If so, speak to one of our Moorestown child custody lawyers at Stockton Family Law. Call us at 856-412-5052 or complete our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and Camden County.