What is parental alienation?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2020 | Family Law

When couples divorce, it can be difficult to set aside emotions. The desire to hurt or punish the other person is all too common. Unfortunately, children often get caught in the middle of these battles, which can lead to parental alienation.

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to drive a wedge between the child and the other parent. These cases can have a devastating effect on relationships. You should turn to a skilled professional to discuss your options for addressing instances of alienation.

Examples of parental alienation

Parental alienation can take many forms. Some of the more common examples include:

  • Disparaging comments: One parent may insult the other parent in front of the child. However, parents are not the only people who engage in this type of behavior. It is also a form of parental alienation when relatives or others make disparaging comments about the other parent in front of the child, and a parent fails to address the offending comments.
  • Undermining a parent’s authority: A close cousin to disparaging comments, if one parent leads a child to believe that the other parent is wrong or has less influence over the child’s life, serious rifts in the relationship can occur.
  • Parental substitution: Most parents will eventually enter into a new relationship. This alone is not a form of alienation. A child can often be comfortable with the notion of three or four parents. Issues arise if a stepparent or a romantic partner effectively replaces the biological parent.

There are numerous other ways parental alienation may occur. If you have concerns, you should speak with a professional who has experience addressing these issues.

Keep your child’s best interests in mind

When making custody determinations, the law requires that the child’s best interests guide any decision. Keep your child’s best interests in mind when working through your differences with your ex, and you may be able to minimize the risk of parental alienation.