Parental alienation is a serious concern in contentious divorces. It is a form of custodial and relationship interference. Parental alienation occurs when one parent disrupts the relationship between the other parent and their children by teaching the children that the other parent is a bad person. Alienation is often misunderstood and not addressed as it should be.
There are a couple of things every parent should know.
Alienation is not always blatant
Many cases of parental alienation are deliberate, outright actions by the alienating parent. Blatant misinformation and a crafted smear campaign convince the child that the other parent is unsafe. Some alienation cases are more subtle. Passing comments, degrading statements and pathological avoidance of the other parent can influence the child’s perspective.
Custody changes do not fix alienation issues
As the alienated parent, your first instinct is likely to seek a change in custody to get more time with the child. This alone is often insufficient. Children in this situation believe the messages from the alienating parent because they have no basis for proving otherwise. Reunification or family therapy is often necessary to facilitate communication and rebuild the parent-child relationship.
Proving parental alienation in court is challenging in many cases. Document the change in your relationship with your child with ongoing records. Gather as much evidence as possible and seek statements from others close to your child who may know what they are being told. Ask the court for intervention to order supportive therapy, provide custodial support and prevent further relationship disruption.