While many families are able to weather divorce proceedings without causing any irreparable damage to the relationship between parent and child, this is not always the case. In fact, some parents go out of their way to harm the relationship between their child and his or her other parent. When tactics reach a certain level of severity, they can fall under the category of parental alienation, which is a term used to describe the systematic attempts of one parent to damage the relationship between the other parent and the couple’s children. Unfortunately, parental alienation is not uncommon during contentious custody proceedings and can have devastating consequences for the well-being of the children involved.
Parents who employ these kinds of tactics can and should be held accountable, so if you believe that your ex-spouse is attempting to damage your relationship with your child or you have been unfairly accused of doing so, it is critical to speak with an experienced child custody attorney who can help ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.
It can be difficult to discover whether one parent is purposely trying to alienate a child from his or her other parent, especially during stressful situations, such as divorce, which can be emotional for children even when parental alienation is not involved. Fortunately, there are a few common signs that indicate when parental alienation is occurring. For example, if a child has detailed knowledge of privileged divorce-related discussions or issues that could only have been revealed by one of the parents, there is a good chance that the child has fallen prey to parental alienation. Other typical signs of parental alienation include when:
- One parent refuses to update the other on the child’s schedule, including the date of recreational activities or parent-teacher meetings;
- One parent regularly tries to plan events that will tempt a child to skip a scheduled visit with the other parent;
- One parent refuses to let a child bring his or her possessions to the other parent’s residence;
- One parent allows the child to choose whether he or she will visit the other parent against court orders;
- One parent listens in on the child’s conversations with the other parent or insists on reading texts and emails exchanged between the two;
- The child displays a sudden and unexplained change in behavior towards one parent; or
- One parent explicitly blames the other parent for the divorce and resulting financial problems, or lifestyle changes in the child’s presence.
When a parent has evidence of this type of parental alienation, he or she can file a petition with the court, which will then investigate the case. As part of this process, the court may require all of the parties to meet with a psychologist or a parenting facilitator who can help determine the source of the issues. If this does not resolve the problem, the court may even amend the custody arrangement in favor of the non-alienating parent.
Call an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
If you believe that your ex-spouse is purposely alienating you from your child, please call experienced and compassionate Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for a free evaluation of your case.