What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when a group of parental behaviors are damaging to children’s mental and emotional well-being, and interferes with a relationship of a child and either parent. This condition typically occurs in situations of high-conflict divorce and child custody cases.

Typically, this occurs when a custodial parent actively blocks access, including phone calls and online connection between the noncustodial parent and the child. There are several ways that the parent will do this:

  • They demean the other parent in front of the child and constantly complain that the child is moody or exhibits bad behavior after a visit with the noncustodial parent.
  • Allegations that the other parent abused or is abusing the child physically, sexually, or emotionally when with the child.
  • Visitation with the other parent is obviously inconvenient, like a chore, and if there is any need to deviate from the schedule, the parent in question always uses it as a reason to cancel visitation on their scheduled day.
  • The other parent is telling the child that they are better than or superior to the other parent, making them more favorable in the child’s eyes.

If these sorts of things happen over a long period of time, the child in question gets a clear message that the other parent is “bad” or “wrong.” They also are often afraid that if they do want to be with the noncustodial parent, the custodial parent or alienating parent will either reject or abandon them.

In regard to false accusations of abuse, over half of these involve allegations of sex abuse. Physical abuse allegations are less common, because they actually leave a mark. More common allegations include those of emotional abuse when the alienating parent charges that the other parent is abusing the child.

When you are dealing with these types of issues that involve your child, it is critical to retain the guidance of an attorney who understands and can fight for your child’s best interests to prevent these types of incidents from happening.