Do you feel like your child has suddenly become distanced from you? Are they making unjustified and hurtful statements to you that seem to come out of nowhere? If so, then maybe you’re being subjected to parental alienation. And if that’s the case, you need to be prepared to take quick legal action if you want to protect your child from what some consider to be abusive behavior and to rebuild your relationship with them.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is a tactic, which some parents use to try to create a discord between their child and that child’s other parent. By doing so, the manipulating parent then positions themselves to be the “favorite” parent, and they can use their child’s behavior toward the alienated parent to seek a custody modification that further restricts the alienated parent’s access to the child.
How does parental alienation occur?
There are a lot of manipulative behaviors that can lead to parental alienation. This includes:
- Sharing intimate details about the parent’s marriage with the child
- Lying to the child about things that the other parent has said and done
- Cutting off the other parent’s ability to have direct communication with the child
- Keeping the other parent uninformed about the child’s extracurricular activities
- Making the child believe that they’ve been the victim of abuse or neglect perpetrated upon them by the other parent
These are just some of the ways that manipulation and parental alienation can occur. Parents who engage in alienating behavior can be creative, though, so you’ll need to be diligent as you assess the facts of your case to determine if alienation is actually occurring.
How can you spot signs of alienation?
Your child might exhibit a number of symptoms of alienation. This includes:
- Unwarranted and unjustified criticism of you
- Harshness direct not only at you, but also at your extended family
- The use of language that seems borrowed or is otherwise out of character for your child’s speech
- A belief that falsified events are true or events occurred in a way that is out of touch with reality
- Unwavering support for the other parent
In many instances, the child’s behavior will change rather suddenly, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes parents don’t pick up on alienation because the change is so gradual that it’s hard to see over time until the damage has already been done. Just do your best to remain observant.
What can you do about alienation?
Fortunately, California courts are becoming more receptive to arguments about parental alienation. You just have to make sure that you have strong legal arguments on your side when you pursue your own child custody modification. This might include testimony from a therapist or other mental health professional, as well as that of an expert in the realm of parental alienation. Your own testimony and the accounts of family and friends can prove helpful, too.
While you’ll certainly want to figure out how to protect your child and your relationship with them from a legal standpoint, you’re also going to have to rebuild your relationship with your child. Having open and honest conversations with your child might be beneficial, but many alienated parents find this hard to do. That’s why many choose to work collaboratively with a mental health professional who is experienced in dealing with matters pertaining to parental alienation.
Now is the time to take action
Don’t wait to respond to parental alienation. After all, your child is being harmed by their other parent’s actions. If you’re ready to take action to bring that to a halt, then we encourage you to reach out to a legal team that knows how to aggressively argue these cases.