How Can You Prove Parental Alienation in California?

Parental alienation is a hot topic in custody cases in California, and for that reason it has become a double-edged sword. When one parent can prove that the other parent is using parental alienation tactics to destroy the relationship between parent and child, the court will often penalize the alienating parent, and may take custody away from them. However, when a parent raises allegations of parental alienation and the court believes the accusations are false, that backfires, and the parent who made accusations of parental alienation will be the one facing negative consequences.

So how do you recognize when parental alienation is occurring? And how can you prove parental alienation to the court’s satisfaction? It is very helpful to consult an attorney who is experienced in parental alienation situations. Every situation has unique factors, but here are some general issues to keep in mind when trying to prove parental alienation is or is not occurring.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation involves one parent’s attempts to damage a child’s relationship with the other parent. This can involve a variety of tactics, some much more subtle than others.

When parental alienation tactics continue over time, a child can become afraid of the targeted parent and unwilling to spend time with that parent. They may not want to even have contact with that parent.

Because parental alienation can be so damaging, courts take allegations of parental alienation very seriously. But because accusations are sometimes made falsely to gain an unfair advantage in a custody battle, it is important to have evidence to back up any accusations you make.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

Children can become unwilling to see or talk to a parent for a variety of reasons, so it is important to understand that every instance of alienation is not necessarily the fault of the other parent. A situation is considered parental alienation when one parent intentionally displays negativity toward the other parent to poison the child’s relationship with that parent. If a child is avoiding a parent who has been abusive to them, that is understandable. But if they are avoiding a parent who has only displayed loving behavior, then it is time to start wondering why.

Signs that a child is being affected by parental alienation tactics include:

  • They express intense hatred toward the targeted parent and refuse to acknowledge anything good about them.
  • They repeat negative statements about the targeted parent that they do not know from first hand knowledge but have been told by the alienating parent.
  • They vehemently refuse to talk to or visit the targeted parent and feel no guilt about it.
  • They frequently repeat language from the alienating parent like a parrot.

Very often, it is the intensity of anger and hatred displayed against a parent that reveals that a child is being taught to hate, and that their behavior is not just part of the normal emotional cycle that occurs when a child’s parents split up.

Proving How One Parent is Acting to Alienate a Child from the Other Parent

Constant negative talk about the targeted parent is probably the most common method used to alienate a child. The alienating parent may tell the child that the targeted parent broke up the marriage, that the targeted parent doesn’t love them, and that they are not safe with the targeted parent. They might falsely accuse the targeted parent of using drugs or drinking too much.

An alienating parent might also take steps to keep the targeted parent away from the child by refusing to comply with visitation schedules, not giving the targeted parent information about the child’s activities, refusing to let the child talk to the targeted parent, and making the child feel guilty about spending time with the targeted parent. The alienating parent might even try to erase the targeted parent from the child’s life by destroying presents from that parent and removing pictures of that parent.

To prove that these actions are happening, you need evidence. It is a good idea to keep copies of communications such as texts and emails to see the pattern of communication. You might look for witnesses who have heard the alienating parent saying false or negative statements about you. Document instances where you were denied the opportunity to see or communicate with your child. Check social media and make copies of any negative posts directed at you. You might also get a therapist to testify about changes in your child’s behavior.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Can Help if Parental Alienation is an Issue

Whether you are concerned that parental alienation tactics are being used against you or the other parent is accusing you of using parental alienation against them, you need to act to protect your parental rights and your relationship with your child. The dedicated team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, can put over 300 years of collective experience to work to help you secure your relationship and parental rights. Call 855-426-9111 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation to learn how we can protect you in this delicate situation.

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