Parental alienation is a somewhat controversial term that can arise in divorce and/or child custody cases. Essentially, parental alienation refers to the emotional and psychological disconnect between a child and a parent that has developed into a child’s unjustified dislike of one parent (or of a specific relative). In general, parental alienation is thought to arise in cases when one parent may be “brainwashing” or “programming” a child to become alienated from the other parent due to regularly making negative comments about that other parent.
While it’s ideal for parents to shield their divorce and custody conflicts from a child (and, therefore, minimize the chances of parental alienation), all too often this issue may arise during contentious family law disputes between parents. When it does, it can have significant and lasting impacts on a child’s relationship with one – or possibly both – parents.
How Parental Alienation Occurs
Parental alienation often occurs as a result of various strategies and efforts one parent may use to try to get a child to vilify and distance himself from the other parent. Some of the specific tactics that may be used to try to engender parental alienation between a child and one parent (or another relative) include (but are not necessarily limited to):
- Regularly making disparaging and/or belittling comments about the other parent around the child
- Limiting the child’s contact with the other parent, including phone time with a parent
- Forbidding discussions about the other parent
- Removing pictures of the other parent from the home
- Forcing a child to reject the other parent and/or possibly even choose one parent over another
- Making any other effort to try to remove the other parent from the child’s life
It’s also important to point out that parental alienation:
- Is NOT a term used for cases that involve domestic violence and/or child abuse (In other words, parental alienation is not a term used when a child may legitimately distance him- or herself from an abusive parent.)
- Is usually more likely to occur when one parent has sole custody (and the other parent has limited parenting time)
- Is estimated by researchers to play a role in between 11 and 15 percent of all U.S. divorce and custody cases.
Parental Alienation: Impacts on Children
The most profound impacts of parental alienation will be on the children who are the targets of it, as the children will be the ones who end up missing out on possibly healthy, loving and productive relationships with their other parent.
Some of the signs that parental alienation may already have occurred include (but are not limited to) children:
- Becoming obsessed with hating the targeted parent (when no abuse has occurred)
- Ridiculous or unfounded reasoning for hating the targeted parent
- Strong assertions that the negative feelings towards the targeted parent are his or her own feelings
- A lack of guilt for hating or pushing away the targeted parent (this can be manifested in saying things like He doesn’t deserve to spend time with me.)
Avoiding Parental Alienation
The best way to avoid parental alienation is to try to prevent it early by recognizing the signs that children may display. If you believe that your former spouse is using parental alienation tactics on your child to try to separate you from your child, it’s time to take action and consult with an experienced Denver child custody lawyer at Goldman Law, LLC.
Contact a Denver Child Custody Lawyer at Goldman Law, LLC
Do you believe that parental alienation may be a factor in your child custody case? If so, the trusted Denver child custody attorney at Goldman Law, LLC is ready to help you.
To learn more about your rights and find out how we can help you with parental alienation issues, contact us by calling (303) 656-9529 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page. From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout Colorado.