Parental alienation is a combination of actions by a parent, whether conscious or unconscious, that can cause a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the other parent. If the child begins to exhibit hatred towards the targeted parent, it may be evidence of Parental Alienation Syndrome. This is a term coined in the early 1980s by Richard A. Garden to refer to the psychological effects of estrangement of a child from a parent. It is not recognized as a disorder by medical or legal communities, but many believe that it is a valid concept which deserves attention.
Signs of Parental Alienation
- The other parent asks the child to secretly spy: If a parent asks the child to spy on the other parent for personal information, the child will inevitably feel as if he or she is put in the middle of the parents. This act also demeans the victimized parent and creates a lack of trust between the child and that parent.
- The other parent plans activities for the child that interfere with the child’s visitation: Here, the parent planning activities not only limits visitation for the other parent but also creates the appearance that he or she is the more “fun” parent.
- The other parent allows the child to choose to skip visits: Allowing a child to decide for themselves when to visit or not, when a court order exists, sets the child up for conflict with the non-custodial parent. The child may blame the non-custodial parent for not allowing the child to decide. The parent is ultimately victimized in this situation because he or she is not able to see the child, or if visitation occurs, the child is angry at being forced to visit.
- A parent places blame on the other parent: Oftentimes a parent will blame the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle or even having a new boyfriend/girlfriend. If these emotions are pushed onto the child, he or she may develop them as well.
- The other parent discloses sensitive personal information: If a parent details reasons for the relationship ending or additional private information, the child may view the victimized parent negatively.
- The parent becomes upset when the child enjoys time with the other parent: The child may then feel guilty for having a good time and may eventually not want to keep visiting in order to stop the guilt.
- The other parent is unwilling to adjust schedules
- The child calls you by name instead of mom or dad: This can cause a child not to view the parent as mom or dad, pushing the child further away from the parent.
If you believe that you are the target of parental alienation please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our attorneys understand the emotional difficulties that this situation brings about. We will work with you to discuss what your legal options may be and the best course of action for you and your child.