What Is Parental Alienation?

When Coparenting Turns Hostile

Divorce is a difficult process for all involved, children included. While parents proceed with the intent to coparent peacefully in the best interest of their family, the relationship can turn hostile and antagonistic.

Many coparents experience bumps in the road as they work to iron out their timesharing plan. However, sometimes, conflicts intensify beyond the expected complications and reach a point where they can inflict permanent damage. When one parent becomes unwilling to collaborate with their coparent, and instead attempts to bar them from seeing their child, it is typically the start of parental alienation.

Defining Parental Alienation

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to interfere with the other’s parent-child relationship. Typically, though not always, it’s the result of the alienating parent’s desire to punish the other following a complicated contested custody case.

Examples of parental alienation in action include:

  • Barring the child from seeing the other parent
  • Barring the child from talking to the parent online or over the phone
  • Blaming the other parent for problems the family is facing
  • Expecting the child to choose sides
  • Failing to inform the alienated parent of special events so it appears as though the alienated parent chose not to attend
  • Insulting the other parent in front of the child
  • Intercepting packages that the other parent sent to the child
  • Painting the other parent as a dangerous enemy

Ultimately, the alienating parent will take conscious steps to influence their child’s opinion and perception of the alienated parent.

Common Signs of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation will change the way a child behaves towards the alienated parent. Alienation could lead a child to:

  • Distrust the alienated parent
  • Falsely accuse the alienated parent of abuse
  • Fear the alienated parent
  • Refuse to see the alienated parent
  • Repeat the criticisms of the alienating parent

The exact actions will vary from case to case and could be difficult to notice at first as your child is simultaneously processing the new post-divorce family structure.

How to Prove Parental Alienation

There are a number of ways a parent may elect to prove parental alienation is occurring. Depending on their unique case and circumstances, one might rely on:

  • A child’s testimony if they are older and willing to testify
  • A Minor’s Counsel testimony on behalf of the child
  • A relative’s testimony if they have witnessed significant efforts of the alienating parent to distance the child from the alienated parent
  • Evidence of alienation over texts, emails, and other communication lines
  • Relevant social media posts of the alienating parent disparaging the alienated parent

Our lawyers will help you review your situation and compile evidence to fight your case.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your coparent and child is essential. If you’re being alienated from your child, contact Palmer Rodak & Associates.