Study finds link between spousal abuse and parental alienation

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Family Law

If you were in an abusive marriage, divorcing your spouse may have been necessary for restoring your physical, emotional and mental health. Still, if you have a shared custody arrangement, you hope your ex-spouse treats your kids better than he or she treated you. Unfortunately, your ex-spouse may not have left his or her abusive tendencies behind.

Parental alienation is a type of psychological abuse that happens when one parent tries to convince the kids to mistrust, dislike or despise the other. Just as parental alienation may be hazardous to the young ones in your family, it also may allow your ex-spouse to continue to mistreat you.

A power imbalance

Abusive spouses often create and then take advantage of power imbalances. Specifically, they limit the financial, social and other options the abused spouse has to stop the abuse. When there is no physical violence, psychologists call this type of behavior coercive control. If physical violence accompanies the control, it becomes coercive battary.

A close link

A recent peer-reviewed study from Colorado State University found a close link between coercive control or battery and parental alienation. That is, abusive spouses may weaponize their kids to harm their victims. While there is no guarantee your ex-spouse may engage in parental alienation, a history of coercive control may increase his or her chances of doing so.

If you were a victim of coercive control or battery during your marriage, you may need to take additional steps to protect yourself and your children from parental alienation. Ultimately, if you have evidence of your ex-spouse’s alienating actions, you may be able to ask a court to rework your shared custody arrangement.