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What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is the act or fallout from one parent trying to erode their child’s relationship with the other. In the worst cases, emotional and psychological abuse may be tactics used to persuade the child which can have a lasting impact on them. So, what is parental alienation and what are the legal options?

Understanding Parental Alienation

As mentioned previously, parental alienation is used to disrupt or even eliminate a child’s relationship with one of their parents. In many cases, a parent may use gaslighting and manipulation to exact control over their children and the situation during divorce.

Signs of parental alienation:

  • Children appear angry with their parent
  • Children exhibit guilt about the time the spend with one parent over the other
  • The other parent encourages the children to make decisions regarding custody
  • The other parent divulges personal details about the divorce to the children

Parental alienation may be motivated by a need to win or a sense of competition between spouses. Some divorces are contentious and may become battlegrounds where anything goes. Unfortunately, this perspective is not only harmful to the child, but the future of the family as well. Reconciliation of any kind may be impossible and reaching a mutual agreement regarding custody and other crucial decisions.

Long- and Short-Term Impact

If parents can’t reach a middle ground concerning their family, then the child could be alienated from both parents altogether. Concerning the psychological effects on children, children of any age who experience parental alienation can go through short or long term difficulties.

Short term signs may include:

  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • General apathy
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression

Long term affects, which are much more complicated and difficult to address, may include:

  • Trust issues
  • Mental health struggles like depression and anxiety
  • Anxious, disorganized, or avoidant attachment style development
  • Difficulty forming healthy relationships

It’s important to understand that the age a child is when their parents file for divorce could be a determining factor in the psychological outcome. For younger children going through their formative years, divorce can create attachment issues that they will need to work through.

Unconscious Manipulation

In many cases, parents may not recognize that they are alienating their children. For example, they may be so focused on feelings of betrayal and anger against their spouse they may not be aware that they’re venting to their children. Venting is not bad in and of itself, but it can be damaging depending on what is said.

Parents should never put their children at the center of their marital struggles or use them as pawns to “win.” On the other hand, spouses should not stay in a harmful relationship for the sake of their children. In both cases, children may be unintentionally put in the middle of their parent’s marital issues.

Divorce is a complicated, emotional process for the entire family. Even the most agreeable divorces leave their mark and children may feel alienated in the process. The best way to ensure that your family’s best interests are protected is by entrusting your case to a compassionate and experienced attorney.

The Importance of Legal Guidance

An attorney can help guide families through the difficulties of divorce and advocate for each member of the family. The court will make the final decision regarding custody based on the child’s best interests. An attorney can help parents reach an agreement that is favorable for each member of the family.

Entrust your divorce to attorneys who care. Schedule a consultation with Nichols Dixon PLLC today.