When parents are engaged in a high conflict custody battle, one parent may engage in parental alienation behaviors to undermine the relationship of a child with the other parent. If left unchecked, parental alienation can take a toll on the relationship between a parent and child so it is important to recognize the signs in order to combat it.
- Parental alienation can occur when an ex-spouse bad mouths the other parent in front of the children, and may go so far as one parent telling children that the other parent does not love them.
- Sometimes a parent may cast the other parent as dangerous or otherwise instill fear in children so that they do not want to spend time with the other parent.
- Alienation can also include limiting contact by refusing to comply with a parenting time schedule or interfering with communication whether it be by text, phone calls or intercepting items in the mail such as a birthday card intended for a child or not mailing a child’s letter to the other parent.
- Undermining the other parent’s authority, encouraging a child to call a step parent mom or dad, insisting a child pick sides, referring to the other parent by their first name, or even changing a child’s last name to remove any association with the other parent may all be signs of trouble.
It is important to document any instances of suspected parental alienation which may include emails, text messages or other correspondence sent to a child that convey aggression, disrespect or raise doubts about the other parent. A hypothetical situation may include a parent sending a child a text while they are visiting the other parent “reminding the child to call if they feel scared or worried.”
Evidence of parental alienation might also include affidavits form trusted or neutral third parties or credible witnesses that can attest to the fact a spouse has suggested or stated to the child that the other parent is unreliable, or not safe, or has made other demeaning comments.
If parenting time is withheld it is important to keep a journal of the date and times of missed visits and what reason was given, or, if a parent cannot reach a child by phone as arranged, it is important to keep a log of calls that are not picked up.
Developing patterns of unfilled visits or lack of communication combined with a child’s changing attitude when visiting a parent often tips a parent off that parental alienation might be at work. If problems continue it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can provide information to the court showing that the other parent is controlling, manipulating and confusing a child to the detriment of the parent /child relationship. In demonstrating that it is neither the parent, or the parenting, that is the causal factor for the family dysfunction, the court should intervene to ensure that the child’s best interests ie., a good relationship with BOTH parents, are met.
Ronald L. Bell & Associates represents both mothers and fathers. We analyze each parental alienation case without bias, always striving for what is best for the child and the family. Schedule your strategy session with lawyer Ronald L. Bell by calling 847-495-6000. You can also fill-out our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.