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What is Parental Alienation?

Posted in Divorce, Family Law on Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Divorce involving children is stressful and can lead otherwise reasonable people to engage in extremely unreasonable behavior. When this behavior, however, extends to the children and their relationship with their other parent, such behavior is unacceptable. Parental alienation refers to one parent’s psychological manipulation of the children in an effort to generate ill will toward the other parent and to diminish the bond between that parent and the children. The results are often devastating for both the alienated parent and the children.  If your divorcing spouse is using parental alienation in an attempt to affect your child custody arrangements, you need the professional legal counsel of a knowledgeable Joliet family law attorney

Parental Alienation: The Cause

Parents who are divorcing – or are divorced– often have animosity toward one another, but when a parent allows that animosity to spill over into the children’s lives, it can be extremely damaging. Sometimes, a parent is so hurt that he or she simply doesn’t recognize that the children are internalizing his or her pain. Other times, however, a parent will purposely encourage the children to pick a side. 

Bringing about Parental Alienation

A parent can attempt to bring about parental alienation in any number of ways, but common strategies include:

  • Using the children as go-betweens to carry angry messages or demands to their other parent
  • Sharing inappropriate or even misleading information with the children about their other parent regarding adult topics such as financial concerns or even infidelity 
  • Encouraging the children to blame their other parent for the breakup of the family
  • Failing to facilitate visitation between the children and their other parent

Children are too young and too emotionally immature to understand complex adult themes, and it is highly inappropriate to involve them in such matters. 

Parental Alienation Is Often Self-Perpetuating

The cycle of parental alienation is often self-perpetuating. As the alienating parent continues to work on the children, the children become more wary of both the situation and of their other parent. As your children begin to pull away, your natural inclination may be to give them the space they need to heal. This increased distance, however, can reinforce the original alienation and make the situation that much more complicated and painful for you and your children. 

Remedying Parental Alienation

If your children’s other parent is actively engaging in parental alienation, it can irrevocably damage your relationship with your kids and can be emotionally damaging to your children. While proving parental alienation can be difficult, the courts do not take kindly to this kind of manipulation, and they can alter custody arrangements as a remedy.  Further, a judge can find the offending parent in contempt of court and mandate sanctions against him or her and/or can mandate counseling to help the family heal.  

If Parental Alienation Is Affecting Your Relationship with Your Children, Consult with an Experienced Joliet Family Law Attorney Today

If you believe that your ex-spouse (or divorcing) spouse is engaging in parental alienation, the dedicated legal team at Sabuco, Beck, Hansen & Massino, P.C. in Joliet is committed to advocating for your parental rights. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information today. 

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