Parental alienation is the legal term used to describe the action of one parent attempting to turn the child against the other parent. There is an array of ways that a parent can alienate their relationship with the child. This behavior is problematic because it drives a wedge between the child and parent’s relationship.
Divorce is inevitably difficult for all parties involved, and it can cause parents to involve a child in what should be separate marital issues. A Judge will take parental alienation seriously, whether parents are consciously or unconsciously participating. If one parent is using a child as a pawn in the divorce process, this can influence a Judge’s decision on determining custody. Over time, not only will the Judge see these issues come to light, but the child will also begin to realize the there is a rift in the relationship. A child going through this may show signs of anger towards one parent, he or she may refuse to visit the other parent, they may speak poorly about one parent in the presence of the other, or they may avoid the situation altogether and just shut down.
A child experiencing his or her parents’ separation already face challenges trying to establish a new sense of normalcy. Adding issues of alienation can complicate an already delicate familial situation. Parental alienation can cause a lot of damage on a child, both short and long-term. These situations can create mental health issues, self-esteem issues, and trust issues that have lasting effects.
A few examples of alienation include:
- Telling the child that he or she should not speak to the other parent;
- Telling the child negative things about the other parent;
- Telling the child he or she may not be safe with the other parent;
- Telling the child things to make him or her scared of the other parent;
- Discussing divorce details with the child;
- Asking the child to choose which parent he or she would like to be with;
- Asking the child to spend more time with one parent over the other;
- Allowing the child to speak negatively about the other parent and avoiding correcting that behavior,
- And in some cases, allegations of sexual abuse.
In this situation, it is recommended one consult a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist for advice. However, in the meantime, one should seek assistance from an experienced family law attorney to determine what course of action is best.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal counseling, contact one of Hatcher Law Group’s experienced family law attorneys today.