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Parental Alienation During Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process, and when children are involved, emotions can run high. Unfortunately, some parents resort to destructive behaviors that can harm the parent-child relationship. This behavior, known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), occurs when one parent influences the child to reject the other parent. In severe cases, the child may completely reject the targeted parent.  If a court determines that alienation has occurred, depending on the severity of same, they may award custody to the other parent. They may also restrict the alienator’s access to the child. This can be short or long term and in some severe cases, there may be a complete cessation of contact for a defined period of time.

Recognizing the signs of parental alienation

These warning signs may indicate the presence of parental alienation:

  • Telling the child negative details about the other parent.
  • Denying the child’s property or demanding that possessions be moved between homes.
  • Denying the other parent access to important records and schedules.
  • Blaming the other parent for family issues or having a new romantic partner.
  • Refusing to be flexible with visitation schedules and over-scheduling the child.
  • Asking the child to choose one parent over the other.
  • Encouraging the child’s anger towards the other parent.
  • Using the child to spy or gather information for the alienating parent’s benefit.
  • Arranging temptations that interfere with the other parent’s visitation.
  • Reacting negatively when the child enjoys time with the other parent.
  • Asking the child about the other parent’s personal life.

How to deal with parental alienation

If you suspect parental alienation is occurring, it’s essential to handle the situation with care and seek appropriate support. Stay calm and in control of your behavior, and keep a detailed log of events related to the alienation. Avoid discussing the court case with your child, and focus on positive activities or memories.

Continue to attempt to spend time with your child as scheduled, even if it’s denied, and let your child be open and honest about their feelings and experiences. If possible, seek counseling for your child, preferably from a therapist trained in parental alienation. Avoid engaging in alienating behavior towards your ex-partner.

If you suspect parental alienation is occurring, contact the compassionate family law attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP as soon as possible.