It's no secret that divorce is a difficult experience for children. It can be especially hard for children to cope with divorce when one parent tries to turn them against the other parent. This situation is known as parental alienation and it can have harmful consequences for parents and children. Are you worried that you're a victim of parental alienation? Here's what you need to know.
Identifying Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is when one parent attempts to distance the other parent from their children. Dr. Richard Gardner coined the term in 1985 to describe psychological disturbance brought on by custody litigation.
Parental alienation occurs when a parent uses deceitful tactics to strain the relationship between their child and the other parent. They distort the child's view of their parent through lies, exaggerations, or manipulation. For example, a father may tell their children that their mother doesn't love them, refuses to see them, or blames them for their divorce.
The impact of parental alienation can be severe. A child may avoid the victimized parent, no matter how good their relationship was before. It can also be a traumatic experience for the child that leads to long-term issues like low self-esteem, depression, and antisocial behavior.
When Does Parental Alienation Occur?
Parental alienation commonly occurs after divorce. Research suggests that parental alienation affects between 11 and 15 percent of divorces involving children. Parental alienation frequently stems from resentment towards the other parent. A parent may blame their spouse for the collapse of the marriage, the terms of their divorce settlement, or their strained relationship with their children.
Alienators may use a number of strategies to prevent their child from seeing the other parent. They may make accusations about the other parent to gain the child's loyalty—such as making claims of abuse of infidelity.
Another common tactic is breaking custody agreements. An alienator may try to intrude on the other parent's time with the child. They may text, call, or plan activities that keep the child away from the parent during their designated time.
What to do About Parental Alienation
Don't be afraid to take action if you're a victim of parental alienation. You may be able to fight back against the other parent in court. Although parental alienation is not a crime, you can settle parental alienation through civil proceedings.
It's important to have proof of parental alienation. Make sure to document evidence such as texts, phone calls, emails, or posts on social media. An attorney can help you figure out the next steps and to fight back against this deceptive practice.
Caulder & Valentine have helped many families push back against unfair parental alienation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.