Divorce presents one of the most difficult moments in the life of a family. Apart from its negative economic impacts, divorce would most likely affect the relationship between the families of the couples involved, their friends, and between the parents and children. There are situations where one parent hates the spouse more than he or she loves the children. If this occurs, toxic things happen as either parent tries to lure children to take their side. This results in parental alienation. Parental alienation occurs when one of the parents psychologically manipulates their child to develop a negative attitude or perception towards the other parent. This can be done either purposively or unintentionally. Either of the couples may make demeaning comments about the other without meaning for the child to be exposed to this kind of behavior. In some instances, however, this is done strategically to help win the custody case.
Parental alienation also occurs in intact families. However, it is most common in scenarios where one of the parents is the primary caregiver or when the custody plan directs each of the couples to have equal time with the child. This kind of alienation ruins the relationship between the child and the other parent. It’s not uncommon for children to extend the strained relationship into adulthood. This impacts severely on the alienated parent.
None of the genders is exempted when it comes to parental alienation. Fathers and mothers both have the potential of being on the receiving end. Even though mothers play a central role in childcare and development, they are not immune to alienation. Sometimes, the issue of alienation is not necessarily related to the custody or time-sharing plan, although there may be some kind of correlation. Most victims have found the results of alienation very humiliating. They, however, choose to respond differently depending on the factors surrounding their case.
Contact San Diego Divorce Attorney
Children will eventually begin to show the signs of parental alienation. If you believe that your children’s other parent is negatively manipulating the child’s attitude towards you or if you’re accused of parental alienation, contact San Diego Divorce Attorney for legal counsel and representation. Parental alienation is a sensitive case and the court would need a high level of proof before issuing a verdict. Remember, the courts gave the discretion to change or reverse the child custody arrangements. Our attorneys have rich experience in dealing with issues of parental alienation, representing patents on both sides. We can request the court to give you appropriate solutions to help mitigate the issue while prioritizing your children’s best interests. It is only the court that can alter the custody plan.
Understanding Parental Alienation Syndrome in Children
Many children suffer significantly from custody court battles and this has exposed to parental alienation syndrome, popularly known as PAS. While parental alienation is brought about by parents’ abusive behaviors, actions, and psychological manipulative tactics, PAS is the child’s response. PAS would most likely show whenever a child is subjected to choosing between parents. Parental alienation denies the child the opportunity to love or be loved by both and parents, and this eventually causes great psychological damage.
Different children respond differently to parental alienation and this explains the variation in PAS symptoms from one child to the other. The symptoms also vary depending on the extent to which the child has been affected by the alienation as well as the degree in which the other parent has been vilified. There are children who have totally rejected the alienated parent and some have developed an extremely negative perception and hatred towards the vilified parent.
The most common PAS symptom among children is their new habit of avoiding direct contact with the other parent. Children also begin to show hatred towards the alienated parent for no apparent reason. Mental and emotional impacts of PAS would most likely run into adulthood and can take away important years of bonding. This can result in permanent damage to the relationship with one parent. Parental alienation can induce a feeling of anger, depression, and fear in a child, thereby depriving the child the privilege of living a happy and healthy life.
Signs of Parental Alienation
There are a number of factors that should help you to know that your partner is trying to manipulate your child to take side with him or her. The alienating parent strives to have the child reject or feel shame for connecting with the bad parent. You should be alarmed when the custodial partner is exhibiting any of (but not limited to) the following signs:
- Denying you the opportunity to access the child’s medical records, school reports, or activity schedules
- Giving the child all the information of your marital-life or the reasons for divorce. In most cases, the alienating parent will build her name while tarnishing the other partner’s
- Demanding that the child’s possessions be transferred
- Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule or even denying you visitation rights
- Putting false blame on you, including financial problems, family separation, and adultery
- Asking the child to choose between the parents
- Discouraging the child from visiting you through blackmail tactics
- Presenting the child for adoption by a step-parent and even asking for a name change
- Encouraging the child to be angry at you without any genuine reason
- Asking the child to spy on you while at home and report back to him or her
- Showing signs of anger and discomfort whenever you are having a good time with the child
- He/she is keen to follow each and every conversation that you have with the child over the phone by either turning on the loudspeaker or records all of your calls
- Constantly asking the child of your personal life after separation and makes demands which do not conform to what the court ordered
Consider consulting with a family law attorney whenever you note any of the above and many other signs. The earlier you deal with this, the better for you and your child’s health and happiness.
How to Tell That a Child Has Been Alienated
As indicated earlier, children will respond differently to parental alienation. However, common indicators that a child has been successfully alienated include but not limited to:
- The child vilifies one of the parents using inaccurate and foul language of the other parent
- The child does not want to have any form of contact with the alienated parent or his/her friends and family
- Exhibits total hatred towards one parent with no logical explanation as to why he/she loves the other
- Does not empathize, feel sorry or guilt when the targeted parent is hurt
- Offers weak reasons for their anger and can’t say anything good about the targeted parent
What are the Causes of Parental Alienation?
In a normal family life, each of the parents tends to encourage their children to love and respect them as well as members of the society. This is usually not the case in a family in which either of the spouses had unresolved anger toward the other for their wrongdoings. Some individuals do not know how to separate marital issues from parenting issues.
Also, an alienating partner may have historical matters which they attribute their cause to the other parent. This, for instance, may include something like a loss of employment. It’s also possible for an alienating parent to be suffering from personality disorders and is unable to understand the kind of damage and suffering they are exposing their child to. Some parents use parental alienation as a reactive strategy when they are being pushed into certain inappropriate behavior by their spouses or the children’s’ grandparents
How to Prevent Parental Alienation During Divorce
Cases of parental alienation are treated with utmost seriousness in California courts. The courts’ primary objective during and after the hearing is to ensure that the child in question gets to experience the best possible relationship with both of his or her parents. Prior to the final verdict, the courts will direct for a psychological evaluation. It is natural that each of the partners will be battling to have the child put in his/her custody and this kind of motive is likely to make them prioritize personal interests as opposed to the best interest of the child. In a number of instances, the courts have relied on a reputable third party while delivering the verdict.
Courts prioritize children’s well-being when dealing with divorce and custody cases. The judge will work to find out the root cause of the alienation and offer a remedy that allows both of the parents to play a role in the upbringing of their child. The court may order for a limited or full scope custody evaluation based on various factors, including the age of the child and kind of the allegations. A psychologist may be appointed to interview the child, the parents, and any witnesses. The expert will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the previous correspondences between the parties involved in the case. These may include text messages, voicemail messages, emails, and social media chats.
If the court finds that actually there are signs of parental alienation, it can order the alienating parent to stop the behavior and even direct him/her to get professional counseling services. This is particularly applicable when the court establishes that the alienation was perennial. If the case of parental alienation is severe, the alienating parent may be denied custody of the child, and in this case, the aggravated parent may be awarded sole custody.
Allegations of parental alienation in most cases arise in the initial custody dispute. The courts will consider what is in the best interest of the child and this involves looking to see whether either of the parents is willing to cooperate, compromise and foster communication.
How to Cope Up with Parental Alienation
Being alienated from your child is absolutely one of the most difficult situations to handle. However, there are families who have successfully dealt with it. The top secret in dealing with this challenge is to put your child first and to stop focusing so much on responding against the toxic custodial parent. You probably want to be granted full custody of the child and this means that you should try your best to exhibit the highest standards of parenting. Do not engage with the child concerning the alienation and instead continue working on your relationship with the child. Also, you need to document every aspect whenever you feel like your spouse is alienating the child from you. This may include specific times, dates, and occasions when the custodial parent’s attacks or actions negatively affected your relationship with the child. Such documentation will be handy when custody or visitation issues arise in court.
Tips on How to Stop Parental Alienation
There is no direct shortcut to stopping this kind of alienation. You need to remain proactive and work hard to earn the trust of the other parent. Here are some essential tips that have helped many people deal with parental alienation:
- Concentrate on having memorable moments with the child during visitation
- Call your child regularly and talk politely to the custodial parent
- Consider enrolling in a parenting program in order to enhance your knowledge and skills that will make you be a better parent
- Keep calm, logical and avoid topics that might expose your temper
- Follow the court orders to the letter
- Be proactive in seeking a resolution
- If possible, try to rebuild your relationship with the other parent of your child
You may want to file a motion in court whenever you feel like the child’s life or health is threatened by your partners’ actions or behavior. No matter how tough your case is, continue communicating with your child. Failing to communicate may be interpreted to mean that you’re not interested in being a part of the child’s life or may appear like parental abandonment.
San Diego Parental Alienation Lawyers
Parental alienation is considered to be a form of child abuse and can have a lasting impact on your child. As a parent, you need to understand the negative implications of involving your children in your own marital disputes. San Diego Divorce Attorney is dedicated to guiding parents through appropriate methods of managing emotions in divorce and custody cases in order to ensure that the child’s wellbeing is preserved. If you believe your co-parent is turning your children against you or you’ve been accused of parental alienation, we can help you put an end to it all and restore your relationship with your children. Call 858-529-5150 to schedule a free, initial consultation about your unique situation.