Divorce is difficult for everyone. In the worst cases, however, a spouse may use tactics such as parental alienation to get back at the other spouse. Parental alienation is a harmful syndrome in which one parent disparages the other to children.

Parental alienation can lead to a child refusing to talk or interact with one parent, or seeing that parent in a negative light because of what the other parent said. As soon as you notice signs of this problem during a divorce, take steps to intervene.

Go to the source

Do not use your child as a middleman between you and your spouse. Instead, go directly to the source. Have a conversation with your spouse about the serious harms parental alienation can cause to children. Explain that he or she is not just hurting you, but also the child. Your child could form anxious attachments or develop low self-esteem because of the parental alienation. Talking to your spouse directly could resolve the problem.

Recommend professional help

Alienating a co-parent during a divorce is a sign that the person needs professional help to deal with emotional distress. As the parent suffering alienation, you may not want to recommend psychiatric help yourself as there is little chance of an ex-spouse wanting to take your advice. However, you could ask a friend of your ex-spouse to broach the subject when the time is right.

Use an attorney

If parental alienation is growing to the point of interfering with your ability to visit your child, seek help from a family law attorney. You may need to go up against your spouse in court to fight for a better custody or visitation arrangement. Mediation is a great alternative dispute resolution method if your spouse is willing to work with you.

Do not give up

Being the victim of parental alienation during a divorce can be extremely difficult on your mental and emotional health. Do not give up the fight. A resolution is possible. Seek professional help if necessary to establish a better relationship with your ex-spouse or your child.